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Mexico Political Regime


Vincente Fox won the 2000 presidential elections and this marked the start of the culmination process that would later transform Mexico politically. It was the period when Mexico, reformed from being a one-party administration to a self-governing institution. However, this has not been an easy process and the old rules still operates in certain regions. Since 1930s to the early 21st century, Mexico was in the hands of a one-party political regime which ruled through dictatorship. The PRI (Institution Revolutionary Party) as it is currently called was a one-party administration that controlled the political offices in Mexico. PRI also had power over the government’s unions, civic groups and professional associations. Opposition parties were allowed to work alongside PRI though to specific extents. This paper will look at Mexico’s old regime under one-party regime and it will also look at the consequences that led to political reformation from one-party regime to the multiparty government.

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Mexico’s old regime and forces undermining the PRI

Many political scientists have been analyzing the reasons behind the change in political system specially its change in leadership, democratization among others. It can be said that, there was dire need for Mexico to change its political government into a system that would allow not only equal chances to other politicians but also that was fair to the citizens. Lawson (2000) noted that, “One under-emphasized element in most academic analysis, however, is the rent-seeking nature of Mexico’s old regime. The regime was, from its inception, a vehicle for dividing up economic among its leaders and supporters” (p4).

The old Mexican regime was extraordinarily unwavering and could be relied upon. It was able to last for a long period because, it did not experience any foreign forces and its constituents were unbreakable. However, it had two major shortcomings that made it contentious and unreliable. First, was its over success. It was known to boast investment and economic growth in Mexico, standards of living which are believed to have led to its shortfall. For instance, economic growth led to improved government legitimacy at the same time making it difficult to oversee the demographic changes. Education was made available to many thereby improving the literacy level which led to the growth and development in the mass communication industry among other political changes.

These demographic transformation undermined PRI’s ability to control the state. For instance, the growth in urban centers as well as the serve sector resulted into new social stratification that PRI was unable to control. By the beginning of the 1980s, the economic development shrunken due to urbanization and Mexico ceased to become a nation of peasants but of civilized individuals who were difficult to control. As at 1960s, the single-party votes began to decline when people became more civilized. Increased urbanization, education, and political reformation were some of the factors that led to the declination of the PRI’S ruling. It was later realized that, PRI was a corrupt party that ruled using authoritarianism. One major beneficially of the party was the National Action Party (PAN) although its detachment from the one-party favored all other political parties that had a chance of overtaking PRI.

The second reason for Mexico’s political transformation was raise in economic instability brought about by the collapse of Mexico’s economic model. Although, PRI had initiated economic growth, it failed to maintain it due to corruption. It was one of the most corrupt parties ever known in the history of Mexico. It was a party that assumed that, all people were illiterate and took that advantage to manipulate them however; its plans were not long lived since education played a great role in enlightening people. The economic crises led to the collapse of both monopolistic businesses and the private firms. They were longer competitive due to increased subsidies and illogic decision on investment. These decisions were based on politics instead of financial position. Corruption rotated within the business arena and the measures employed were not adequate in detecting it. The macroeconomic policies failed to establish along term economic stability and rather concentrated on the short-term. The economic instability accelerated during President Luis Echeverria ruling, that is 1970 to 1976. However, the oil boom helped to raise the sector although not for long since it fell again from 1976 to 1982.

According to Bilello (1989), the economic crises forced PRI to cut on its subsidies supply to some of the key sectors in the economy. In 1988, Carlos Salinas won the elections over Cuauhtémoc Cardenas although it was believed to be as a result of fraud. This marked the start of the reformation of the political system. Lawson observed that, “Although the regime’s legitimacy had been eroding for years, it now collapsed. Like earlier catalytic events-such as the Tlatelolco massacre of student protesters in 1968, the national bankruptcy of 1982, and the devastating Mexico City earthquake f 1985-the alleged fraud of 1988 triggered mass protests and increasing social mobilization” (p9).

Salinas and PAN joined hands in order to amend the constitution. They formed reforms that helped to eradicate most of PRI core elements and focused more on market-oriented strategies and political reforming. Land redistribution came to an end and PRI anticlericalism was renounced

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New democratic institution

The aim of Salinas was to modernize the economy and to revitalize the political institutions. He wanted to restructure the ruling party on new foundation both economically and socially and to ensure that PRI’S elements were swept away. Salinas attempt to reform the government proved to be difficult when PRI won the election by 61% in 1991 and emerged the winners of the presidential election in 1994. During this time, the nation’s economy continued to deteriorate making it hard for Salinas. His market-oriented strategies led to increased social inequalities instead of ending them. Salinas was devastated but was not ready to give up. In the 1997 presidential elections, PRI was defeated and this marked the end of one-party rule in Mexico and the beginning of a multiparty government. Later in 2000, Vicente Fox was elected as president and he continued with the work of Salinas (Anon. 2000). “The victory of Vincente Fox of the PAN over the PRI’s presidential candidate in 2000 was a watershed moment for Mexico politics, but it was only one of the many such moments for Mexico during the past decade” (Holzner, 2009 p1).

The future of Mexico

Mexico is now a multiparty government free from one-party rule that had lasted for over sixty years. With the beginning of the new era, Mexico is assured of political stability as well as economic growth. Since Fox was elected as president, many reforms have been made in the government one of them being the fight against corruption. Mexican politician can now participate in free and fair elections free from a fraud; a situation that was unheard of in its history. Vale (2010) observed that, “the 1990s were a decade that witnessed wide-ranging political and also economic changes” (p1). It is now a democratic party that can make its own decisions. The government bodies that are responsible for ensuring quality of the democracy include the courts, and the bureaucracy. These are the government aspects with the responsibility of implementing the laws passed by parliament.

The political reformation in Mexico has not taken the same pace within all spheres with of the government. Some institutions are still under the leadership of PRI and it may take about a decade before Mexico is fully reformed. Socio-economic inequalities that were influenced by the old regime are still evident in the financial sector which is still lagging behind as compared to other nations. It may take quite some time before these inequalities are eventually swept out. There is still a large gap between the rich and the poor which seems to be getting wider instead of decreasing.


Fox and Salinas are among the politician that initiated a lot of change in Mexican politics. Before them was the PRI one-party regime which dictated the way people should live. Although it led to economic developed, it failed in maintaining this growth which eventually collapsed. This was one of the resources why Salinas and Fox fought to undermine PRI’s rule. PRI was also known for its corruption in all spheres of the government. Fox fight was not an easy one since PRI was a strong party. They waited for many years before they were able to accomplish their mission. Political reformations started showing signs in the late 1990 although PRI’s regime was not completely over until 2000 when Fox won the presidential election. Since then, Mexico has been a multiparty government and corruption has subsidized although it is still prevalent in certain sectors.


Anon. (2000). Mexico elections- Vincente Fox claims victory. Web.

Bilello, S. (1989). The opposition struggles in Mexico. Web.

Holzner, C. A. (2009). Authoritarian legacies and democratic consolidation in Mexico. Web.

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Lawson, C. (2000). Democratization and Authoritarian Enclaves in Mexico. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Vale, B. (2010). The weakening of the PRI regime in Mexico. Web.

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