Design digest: state elections in Mexico

An analysis in last week’s The Economist casts light on coming “state” elections in Mexico, and illustrates two themes discussed in The Joy of Politics. To whit.

Mexico is a federal state, the units of which are called “states,” or, in Spanish, estados. Elections take place at varying intervals at both the national, or federal, level, and the regional, or state level. (The German system offers interesting parallels.)

So we are reminded that certain frequently employed terms in political commentary are often imprecise in their usage.

The elections scheduled to take place later this year also reveal an interesting party dynamic. For much of the 20th century, Mexican politics across the system was dominated by one party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The party’s stranglehold on the Mexican Presidency was broken in 2000, when Vincente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) was elected. There has gradually been more back and forth in national politics since. (Japanese politics offers a parallel in this regard.)

Now it has been suggested that the RPI may also lose control of Mexico’s most populous state, the “State of Mexico,” which consists of the territory around Mexico City, in what may presage the demise of the party nationwide and the introduction of a new party dynamic in Mexican politics, with the social democratic  Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) taking a leading role.

What this means for the relative health of democracy in Mexico is an open question. You might think that pluralism is the desired outcome of competitive party politics in any given country. Either way, Mexicns may be moving into relatively uncharted waters.

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