Sources of Democratic Responsiveness in Mexico
Paperback | 9780268023010 | March 2010
Matthew Cleary investigates the political sources of improved government responsiveness in contemporary Mexico. He draws on existing theoretical frameworks that explain responsiveness (the degree to which government output matches public preferences) as a function of electoral accountability mechanisms, direct participatory pressure, or a combination of the two. Cleary demonstrates that electoral competition is not the cause of improved responsiveness among Mexican municipal governments. Instead, he attributes responsiveness in the 1980s and 1990s to a prior qualitative shift in participatory politics that began in the 1970s and continues to this day. The inability of electoral competition to improve responsiveness is, Cleary argues, a function of Mexico's political institutions. The book demonstrates the implications of thinking broadly about the variety of strategies that citizens use, on a daily basis, to influence the behavior of politicians. The Sources of Democratic Responsiveness in Mexico exposes serious flaws in conventional understandings of electoral competition in Mexico. Cleary's careful critique of electoral accountability theory and his theory of participatory responsiveness address broader theoretical and conceptual issues that extend beyond the Mexican situation.
"This book does an excellent job of exposing the weaknesses of elections as mechanisms of democratic accountability, both in the abstract and with regard to the specific features of the Mexican political system. Most scholars accept the electoral model as a given. Cleary makes it theoretically clear why this is deeply problematic, not by asserting that elections never perform an accountability function, but rather by showing that they may not, and that we ignore this possibility at our peril." --Marcus Kurtz, Ohio State University
". . . an important contribution to the literature on problems of democracy in Latin America. Cleary offers a careful, nuanced analysis of the limits of electoral competition as a democratic instrument for improving the responsiveness of government to citizens in contemporary Mexico." --Richard Snyder, Brown University
Matthew R. Cleary is assistant professor of political science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. He is coauthor with Susan C. Stokes of Democracy and the Culture of Skepticism: Political Trust in Argentina and Mexico.