Decentralization in Mexico: From Reforma Municipal to Solidaridad to Nuevo Federalismo

Decentralization in Mexico: From Reforma Municipal to Solidaridad to Nuevo Federalismo

Decentralization in Mexico: From Reforma Municipal to Solidaridad to Nuevo Federalismo

Decentralization in Mexico: From Reforma Municipal to Solidaridad to Nuevo Federalismo

Synopsis

This book assesses the impact of decentralization on Mexico's intergovernmental relations & examines the constraints upon the devolution of political power from the center to the lower levels of government. It also discusses the distribution of power & authority to governments of opposition parties within the context of a more open political space.

Excerpt

This book uses a specific area of public policy, decentralization (descentralización), to analyze the distribution of governmental power in contemporary Mexico. Although Mexico was once recognized for the stability of its strongly centralist oneparty political system, events since the mid-1980s have raised expectations that it will successfully decentralize in response to the demands of its ever-changing political environment. Increasingly, these demands have clustered around issues of political empowerment and democratization.

Like almost everything else in contemporary Mexico, however, the process of dispersing political power by granting a degree of autonomy to states and municipalities (municipios) and by opening up the political space to the opposition has not been easy. Yet it has occurred. the political scenario in Mexico, where after more than sixty years of one-party rule one now finds opposition parties running important city and state governments, is testimony that something has changed; in many respects, these opposition governments may be regarded as representative of Mexico's new political tapestry.

This volume argues that the Mexican government's decentralization efforts in the last fifteen years have been pursued to regain some of the legitimacy and credibility that both the government and the ruling party have lost in the course of the political crisis that began to unfold in the early 1980s. My contention is that, beginning with Miguel de la Madrid's presidency (1982-1988), the Mexican government embarked on a serious effort of political and administrative decentralization as a means of improving its hold on power; paradoxically, it centralized by decentralizing. That effort continued until the end of the administration of Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994). Since the beginning of Ernesto Zedillo's presidency (1994-2000), however, it has become increasingly clear that the survival of the ruling party and, indeed, the viability of Zedillo's government require a genuine, de facto reduction of centralism. For Zedillo and beyond, decentralization in some guise or other will have to be an ingredient in any recipe for modernization.

Necessarily, the dispersion of power--in political, economic, administrative, social, and geographical terms--forms a crucial part of any analysis of democratization, modernization, and public policy in contemporary Mexico. This book contributes to this analysis in three ways. First, it addresses an area of public policy--decentralization--that has not received the attention it deserves in terms of its relevance for contemporary Mexico's political and administrative system. If the . . .

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