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Diaz-Cayeros, Magaloni, and Weingast: Tragic brilliance

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Diaz-Cayeros, Magaloni, and Weingast. 2003. Tragic brilliance: Equilibrium hegemony and democratization in Mexico. Manuscript.

In Brief


How do unpopular one-party regimes continue to attract votes (as the PRI did)?

The Lit's (incorrect) Answers

Argument: A 'tragic' and 'brilliant' solution

The Model

Central Funding of Municipalities

To gain a foothold, an opposition party would need to win some local races. But municipal governments depend on the central government for their money. And the PRI credibly threatens to dramatically reduce funding to (i.e. punish) any municipality that elects an opposition party. Thus, in order for the local government to be able to continue to function, citizens have strong incentives to vote for PRI, not an opposition party.

Two Additional Factors Hurting the Opposition

  1. No record in the national government, therefore no credibility on policy promises.
  2. No access to central government's funds, therefore can't commit to provide roads, water, sewage, power, etc., without PRI's support.

Three Trends that Weaken the PRI (from comparative statics)

  1. Economic collapse in the 1980s and the 1994 Peso crisis reduced the resources available to the PRI to reward supporters.
  2. Economic modernization differentiated localities, making some more likely to defect from the PRI.
  3. Biggie: The Mexican economy's growing internationalization allowed people to get wealth on their own: More jobs, more integration with the US, and more remittances from family working in the US gave voters a credible exit strategy from the PRI.


Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Diaz-Cayeros, Alberto (author)Magaloni, Beatriz (author)Weingast, Barry (author)Comparative PoliticsSingle Party Dominance

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