monopoly on the use of coercion, and it was willing to use that coercion to maintain itself in power; potential challengers had to take that fact into account. The highly institutionalized nature of the regime meant that certain things would predictably happen, such as the inauguration of a new president after the next election. Therefore, people took that likelihood into account when deciding on their course of action. For most of the past half century, the Mexican economy grew at a healthy rate and, although that growth disappeared in the 1980s, Mexicans should not be considered irrational if they believed that better times would return once again. The flexibility of the regime in the past also made it reasonable for Mexicans to assume that the government would continue to adapt to emerging demands. For all these reasons, therefore, elites and nonelites could be considered rational if they acted as if their self-interest would best be served by continuing to accept the existence of the regime. 25
Thus institutionalization, perceived effectiveness, adaptability, elite cohesion, location, and coercion all reinforced each other in their contributions to regime stability. They did so mainly through influencing the incentives of political actors to support the regime. The more that those factors leaned in one direction (institutionalized procedures, effective policies, flexible strategies, cohesive elites, moderate use of coercion, and continued support from the United States) rather than the other, the more likely that each political actor would see his interest in supporting, or at least not opposing, the regime.
This chapter has laid out the framework for an analysis of Mexico's political stability. Chapter 2 will analyze the construction of the modern Mexican state during the administration of Lázaro Cárdenas in the 1930s.