The Definitive Reform: Why Did Mexico’s PRI Propose and Approve the 1996 Electoral Reform?
50 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2012
Date Written: April 14, 2012
Mexico’s 1996 electoral reform catalyzed the end of seven decades of uninter- rupted rule by the PRI. This paper offers a new explanation of why president Ernesto Zedillo proposed this definitive electoral reform the day he took power, as well as why his party, the PRI, unanimously approved it during the second half of 1996. Supported by a wide array of primary and secondary sources, I argue that Zedillo called for a new electoral reform in order to reduce the political instability generated by the recurrent post-electoral conflicts that characterized Mexico’s state and municipal elections during the 1988-1994 period. The PRI, in turn, supported the reform for two reasons. First, certain parts of it significantly benefited the party. Second, Zedillo still enjoyed the institutional and extra- institutional powers that had made Mexico’s president the most powerful actor within the political regime. This allowed him to convince and, if necessary, force the members of the PRI to approve those aspects of the reform that were a priority for him, even when they might go against the official party’s interests.
Keywords: Mexico, PRI, Dominant-Party Regimes, Single-Party Regimes, Democratization, Regime Transition
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