IS THERE A DEMOCRATIC LEGACY OF THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION? Francisco Valdés Ugalde November 2005
CONTENTS 1 - DEMOCRACY AND THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION 2- DEMISE OF REVOLUTIONARY NATIONALISM 3- SOCIAL LIBERALISM 4- INCOMPLETE DEMOCRACY 5- FINAL REMARKS
Introduction <ul><li>The relationship between democracy and the Mexican Revolution was not a fortunate one . </li></ul><ul><li>The revolution started as a democratic movement against the Porfirian regime, but once President Francisco Madero was overthrown democratic efforts faded in favor of “revolutionary” ones. </li></ul><ul><li>The 1917 Constitution enacted a democratic presidential and federalist political regime, but soon it was dismantled in order to give room to a presidentialist one party system. </li></ul><ul><li>Revolutionary nationalism became the ruling state ideology associated with that political system, particularly during 1934 to 1940 Lázaro Cárdenas administration. This ideology prevailed over all other political ideologies until the 1960’s. </li></ul>
Introduction <ul><li>In the last 40 years the relationship of revolutionary nationalism with politics and the economy eroded progressively and became exhausted. </li></ul><ul><li>In its place, the pluralistic trends of democratic institutions have become dominant in the public sphere. Yet they have clashed with rules and interests associated with corporatist and clientelistic coalitions that remain in the political system and resist democracy. </li></ul>
1- Democracy and the Mexican Revolution <ul><li>1933: the PNR reforms the political regime </li></ul><ul><li>In 1933 the PNR promoted a bill that changes 9 constitutional articles. From then on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Senators and representatives are no longer eligible for immediate reelection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The same reform includes municipal officials and local legislators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Federal government takes over power and faculties previously entitled to local authorities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>These changes add to previous ones that concentrated in the Presidency the power over the judiciary </li></ul></ul>
1- Democracy and the Mexican Revolution <ul><li>The consequence for democracy: authoritarianism </li></ul><ul><li>The Presidency becomes the factotum of the political system, balancing and promoting group interests </li></ul><ul><li>Government controls elections </li></ul><ul><li>- The dominant party provides the greater mass of elected authorities at the federal, state and municipal levels </li></ul><ul><li>- Semi-corporatist structure (The dominant party organizes workers and peasants, as well as urban low income groups) </li></ul><ul><li>- The party plays an agency role for popular demands and needs, for upward mobility (by recruiting political leaders), and for political stability </li></ul><ul><li>The President controls all relevant judicial, congressional and state officials </li></ul><ul><li>Political elite’s mobility is one key result of this institutional “innovation”, therefore stability </li></ul>
1- Democracy and the Mexican Revolution: Revolutionary Nationalism <ul><li>Nation state unity as an accomplishment of sovereignty & popular demands for social justice : </li></ul><ul><li>National sovereignty over all land and natural resources is enforced by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>distributing large estates among the peasantry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>termination of oil extraction contracts with foreign companies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>- Worker’s right to unionize is enforced </li></ul><ul><li>- Public education is fostered </li></ul><ul><li>- Active economic role of the state by means of public enterprise, limits and conditions to private property, and agreements with domestic firms </li></ul>
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism - The same mechanisms meant to provide for the strengthening of sovereignty and the leveling of social classes worked against that very end. In the absence of checks and balances, the more advantaged groups bent government decisions in their favor, leaving behind them groups with lower bargaining capacity. - A powerful Presidency served businesslike groups interests better rather than the lower classes that were supposed to benefit from it. - PRI political monopoly worked against social rights and favored political control, worsening the condition of the majority of the population. Loyalty to social rights included in the constitutional pact became in time an ideological exercise rather than a policy commitment.
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism: a balance Changes in economic policies coexisted for a significant period in which economic growth coexisted with improvement of social conditions. Poverty diminished from 1963-1981: ‑2.8% annually, Decreasing from 75% of the population to less than 50%. In contrast, from 1981 onwards private consumption fell at a rate of 1.2% annually between 1984 and 1989, recovering slightly from 1989-92, but within a continuous trend to fall
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism: the impasse From 1970 to 1982 the tendency toward economic liberalization was resisted. The government tried to protect the economy from external shocks, strengthening intervention. -Results : GDP growth was sustained during those years, but on the other, external debt and fiscal deficit grew to the extent that adjustment policies became inevitable in the context of increasing international constraints.
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism: the end - From 1982 to 1988 a process of sharp economic adjustments began. It was a contradictory process for it was based on the strengthening of the role of the state and on a program of privatization and trade liberalization. - Two of the most important features of revolutionary nationalism were at stake: presidential (or “state”) authority on economic policy making and constitutional limits to private property. - Measures taken in this process finally worked against the predominance of revolutionary nationalism and in favor of its substitution by some version of liberalism.
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism: economic indicators - Wages reached a peak in the period from 1972-75, and entered a cyclical tendency within an overall decline afterwards. In 1995 wages had the same level they had reached in 1983, and 1990.
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism: economic indicators <ul><li>Migrant workers remittances: Presently they are a source of national income greater than oil revenues </li></ul>
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism: economic indicators Relevant problems of economic organization - In 1996 43.6% of total urban working population was occupied in low productivity sectors. - In 1998 it grew to 44.3% - Informal jobs growth: - 2000: 39.2% of total jobs The organizational insufficiency of the Mexican economy leading to the demise of revolutionary nationalism increased its difficulties with the burden of the external debt, mostly contracted after 1970
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism: political indicators <ul><ul><li>On the political arena a major transformation takes place in the 1980’s. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>From 1977 onwards a process of political reform occurred. It was mostly based on the growth of congressional representation of opposition parties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Electoral weight of political parties other than PRI increased, weakening the political system on which revolutionary nationalism was based. </li></ul></ul>
2- Demise of Revolutionary Nationalism: political indicators <ul><li>- But it was until the presidential election of 1988 and in the 1990’s that democracy became a central demand for a majority of the electorate. </li></ul><ul><li>- This election was the more controversial of the second half of the twentieth century. Even though Congress declared Carlos Salinas president-elect in September of 1988, a veil of disbelief was shed over his legitimacy. The “fall of the system” of electronic vote counting and the political mobilization in support of the left to the center opposition candidate Cuauhtémoc Cardenas challenged the stability of the political system . </li></ul><ul><li>- In this election Salinas won with 49.1% of total vote. The combined electoral outcome for the opposition was 50.9%. </li></ul>
3- Social Liberalism <ul><li>The 1990´s </li></ul><ul><li>At the beginning of the decade a general feeling that lack of legitimacy was undermining government authority arises </li></ul><ul><li>… instability could be at hand. </li></ul><ul><li>President Salinas implemented the most ambitious economic reform program since the 1930’s. It ran from privatization of state owned enterprises to the signing of NAFTA. </li></ul>
3- Social Liberalism <ul><li>Salinas’s “state reform” comprised a new conception of the relationship between the state, the economy and society. </li></ul><ul><li>“… redefining the state’s presence is not equal to privatization, but to the strengthening of civil society. Our modern state does not privatize economic activities, but incorporates them into the social whole. This is the way the state articulates private activities into national tasks” (Salinas, 1990). </li></ul><ul><li>- He stated that privatization revenues would be devoted to financing the “Programa Nacional de Solidaridad” (PRONASOL). The expected result would be the legitimation of privatization and state reform policies. </li></ul><ul><li>- Major changes were also effected in the relationship between the state and social and national rights forming part of the corpus of revolutionary nationalism. Constitutional Articles 3 rd , 27 th , 28 th , and 130 th were amended. </li></ul>
3- Social Liberalism <ul><li>The constitution of 1917 was interpreted by Salinas by stating that the original intentions of the Constituent Congress were not to develop an interventionist state, but one that could address social rights to meet the goals of social justice </li></ul><ul><li>- Social liberalism was meant to substitute revolutionary nationalism as the official ideology of the PRI and the Mexican State. </li></ul>
3- Social Liberalism: politics <ul><li>The weak side of Salinas’s “reform of the state” was politics. </li></ul><ul><li>-From the very beginning Salinas’s strategy appears as a perestroika without glasnost . </li></ul><ul><li>Even if the solidarity program created new electoral constituencies in the long run a profound political reform was needed to sustain economic liberalization. </li></ul><ul><li>Without opening up the political system, serious political competition between political parties representing emerging forces would not be achieved. </li></ul>
3- Social Liberalism: Politics <ul><li>… but the plan failed in 1994… </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Zapatista upheaval </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The slayings of Colosio and Ruiz Massieu (the PRI congressional leader). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The continuance of the opposition parties electoral influence, and, last but not least, </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The “December mistake” (1994) (“ error de diciembre ”) that led the economy into the worst economic crisis experienced by the living generations. </li></ul></ul></ul>
4- Incomplete Democracy <ul><li>These events led to the final crisis of one party hegemonic presidentialism, the political form espousing revolutionary nationalism. </li></ul><ul><li>- The pressure for democratic institutions headed to the opening up of the political system. </li></ul>
4- Incomplete Democracy <ul><li>Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) inherited a difficult economic and political situation. </li></ul><ul><li>He realized that deep democratic reforms were in order for stability and economic liberalization </li></ul><ul><li>He implemented a “definitive electoral reform.” </li></ul><ul><li>Zedillo’s term (1994-2000) was featured by two unprecedented political facts: loss of absolute majority in Congress </li></ul>
4- Incomplete Democracy Electoral tendencies at local levels began to favor political parties different than the PRI since 1985.
4- Incomplete Democracy: electoral reforms <ul><li>Even though an electoral tribunal was created in 1986 and the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) in 1990, conflicts about electoral fairness and transparency remained a major feature of the political process. </li></ul><ul><li>- It was not until the 1996 reform that both institutions gained full autonomy. That reform granted the tribunal complete jurisdiction over electoral conflicts and validation of elections, and gave the IFE autonomy from government by transferring from the Executive to Congress the last strings of authority over IFE appointments that the former kept until then. </li></ul>
4- Incomplete Democracy: Electoral reforms These reforms have implied that: - The political process was increasingly detached from presidential authoritarianism and pointed towards the building of a democratic system. - This process led to what is natural in all democracies: the electoral swing between political alternatives that was crowned in July 2000 with the election of president Vicente Fox. However, the end of presidential authoritarianism have made the major flaws of the political system apparent, and the balance of forces in Congress and between Congress and the president have led to a stalemate in consensus on the reforms that should be made to renew the political system.
4- Incomplete Democracy: Incompleteness explained <ul><li>The authoritarian legacy of the Mexican Revolution has been removed at the electoral level but it still permeates the functionings of the political system. </li></ul><ul><li>The end of one party rule and presidential authoritarianism have made the major flaws of the political system apparent. </li></ul>
4- Incomplete Democracy: Incompleteness explained <ul><li>No reelection (consecutive) of legislators (federal and state) and municipal authorities weaken checks and balances and federalism </li></ul><ul><li>The balance between President and Congress, and the Federal and local systems are still characterized by the rules implemented by the PNR in 1933. </li></ul><ul><li>Fundamental rights are still insufficiently enforced by the judiciary. Justice is far from the reach of ordinary citizens </li></ul>
5- Final remarks Democracy requires “good” government. Pluralism is not enough. - A new electoral and party system is in place - But this system and policy rules are still governed by the authoritarian legacy of the Mexican Revolution -Deep reforms of the presidential(ist), the federal and the justice systems are needed - These reforms cannot be effected without constitutional amendments and the consequential legal adjustments required in (at least) these areas - Uncertainty about the likelihood of these reforms dominates national politics…