Ordinary Opinions of Everyday Mexicans: Polling from the 1940s-2012

April 13, 2015

By Roderic Ai Camp, Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member
April 2015

mexican-flag1Abstract

The evolution of the importance of public opinion in Mexico is intertwined with the emphasis of scholars, both foreign and Mexican, introducing survey research techniques. These efforts became more common in the 1960s and 1970s, but became increasingly significant in the 1980s, when major newspapers and other publications begin to sponsor wide-ranging public opinion polls. Public opinion polls played a critical role in Mexico’s democratic political transition during the 1980s and 1990s, informing ordinary Mexicans about how their peers viewed candidates and important policy issues, while simultaneously allowing citizens, for the first time, to assess a potential candidate’s likelihood of winning an election before the vote, while also confirming actual election outcomes through exit polls. Polling data reveal changing social, religious, economic, and political attitudes among Mexicans over time, revealing the importance of both traditional and contemporary values in explaining citizen behavior.

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Democratizing Mexican Politics, 1982-2012

April 13, 2015

By Roderic Ai Camp, Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member
April 2015

Abstract
Mexico’s democratic transition provides a revealing case study of a semi-authoritarian political model evolving incrementally into an electoral democracy over two decades. One of the special features of that transition was its slow progress compared to its peers in Latin America, especially given its proximity to the United States, the most influential democracy in the last half of the 20th century.The first attempt to introduce fair, competitive elections occurred under the leadership of Miguel de la Madrid in 1983, but he reversed direction when he was opposed by leading politicians from his own party. His successor, Carlos Salinas (1988–1994), chose to pursue economic liberalization, opening up Mexico to greater competition globally, and negotiating an agreement with Canada and the United States (North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA), while maintaining an authoritarian presidency. During this era, proactive actors that fomented significant political change came from numerous sources. The following were particularly noteworthy in explaining Mexico’s shift to a democratic model: dissident elites who pushed for democracy inside the dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); dissident elites who left PRI to form the most successful opposition parties in the 20th century, including the founding of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in 1989; social and civic movements originating from government incompetence in addressing the results of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, the widespread fraud during the 1988 presidential election, and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation uprising in 1994; the altered composition of political leadership from the establishment and the opposition characterized by stronger backgrounds in local, elective offices, party leadership, and nonpolitical careers; new electoral laws reinforcing independent decision-making regarding electoral practices and outcomes in the 1990s; and the introduction of new political actors supportive of democratic change, such as the Catholic Church.

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Interministerial Commission for the Prevention of Violence is created (Spanish)

February 11, 2013

120px-Flag_of_Mexico_(1)Milenio, 2/11/2013

La Secretaría de Gobernaciónpublicó el acuerdo por el que se crea la Comisión Intersecretarial para la Prevención Social de la Violencia y la Delincuencia, cuyo objetivo es coordinar las dependencias y entidades de la Administración Pública Federal en el diseño y la ejecución de políticas en la materia.

El documento, publicado este lunes en el Diario Oficial de la Federación, indica que la comisión hará las recomendaciones para que las políticas, los programas y las acciones de las dependencias que la integran se orienten coordinadamente a la atención prioritaria de grupos vulnerables y construir una ciudadanía responsable.

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Teachers announce a protest against the educational reform (Spanish)

January 28, 2013

MexicoSchool

Milenio, 1/27/2013

Members of the Democratic National Executive Committee of  SNTE oppose the proposed educational and labor reform. As a result, they will be organizing mobilizations and manifestations against the amendments at the end of this month in Mexico D.F.

They will also recur to legal resources  because they believe that the reform presents a direct violation to workers and students’  human rights.

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Old Politics and New Government

January 24, 2013

120px-Flag_of_Mexico_(1)

Perspectives on the Americas, 1/23/2013

Mexico has a new government but not a new reality. Problems do not change just because a change in government has taken place. A new government, however, has the opportunity to make its own mark on national politics by exercising effective leadership to produce a change of attitude and, eventually, of reality.

Two characteristics of the new PRI are evident. The first consists of the presence of a team of politicians experienced in governmental functions. The second is the perception that the PRI activists know that the voters have granted them their last opportunity to vindicate themselves and if they fail to deliver satisfactory results, they will be voted out of power in the next election. Both traits suggest that there will be great activism and skill in the PRI’s management of public matters; however, nothing guarantees that they will do the things that are needed to achieve their objective.

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Commentary on Female Participation in Mexican Politics

May 17, 2012

Mexico Institute, 5/17/2012
by Diana Murray Watts and Eric L. Olson

Despite the small strides toward inclusion of women in Mexican politics, there remains much ground to be gained. The election of Josefina Vázquez Mota as the first female presidential candidate to run for a major political party (the PAN) marks a big step toward gender equality in politics. Mexican society as a whole, however, is still hierarchical – the male figure dominates family life, business, and politics. Many are still hesitant to grant women positions of power. For instance, the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) had to go as far as issuing a warning to political parties for failing to comply legal requirements that 40% of each party’s candidate lists for Congressional seats be reserved for women. While political parties originally responded negatively to the IFE’s warnings, ultimately the parties complied with the legal requirement. However, the mere fact that a legal framework is needed to ensure female participation in politics speaks volumes about the apparent lack of gender equality in Mexico’s democracy.

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Leonardo Curzio: Predictions on Mexican Foreign Policy [In Spanish]

April 11, 2012

Mexico Institute, 4/11/2012

In this article, Leonardo Curzio, renowned journalist and academic at UNAM, lays out the main topics for the national security agenda of Mexico as well as the issues that the country will have to face in the future.

Curzio predicts that Mexico’s relationship with the United States will continue to be the most important axis point of Mexico’s foreign policy strategy. He explains that bilateral cooperation against terrorism should not be left behind, especially when considering the potential for terrorists to occupy Mexican territory as an operational base from which to inflict an attack upon the United States. Furthermore, Curzio argues, the U.S.-Mexico border represents interests that are vital for both countries, including economic, political, military, and particularly demographic concerns. Accordingly, Curzio states that the U.S.-Mexico border will be the most important topic in the Mexican national security agenda.

In terms of the national security agenda, Curzio also points out the importance of keeping an internal security strategy that can ensure political stability through the following elements: democratic governance, political order in the three levels of government, and development of institutional capacity, particularly for migration authorities and the police.

According to Curzio, Mexico is quite alone with its problems. He argues, however, that Mexico’s relationship with the United States should step out of what the sensationalist press says and instead find a position from which the doors of effective and mutual responsibility can finally open.

To read the full text that appeared on the March 2012 Spanish edition of Foreign Policy, click here.


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