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Title: Fluid Electorates: The Effect of Migration on Subnational Democratization in Mexico
Authors: Elizondo, Patricio
Advisors: Boix, Carles
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: For most of the twentieth century, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) exercised single-party rule in Mexico. Many claim that Mexico became democratic in the year 2000, when the PRI lost the presidency to an opposition party. An analysis of democratization in Mexico at the subnational level, however, yields a much more complex picture. The process of subnational democratization began more than a decade before the PRI lost the presidency, and continued for more than a decade thereafter. Municipalities began voting out the PRI as early as 1986, and the PRI lost its first governorship in 1989. Yet, as of July 2012, the PRI had still not lost power in four states and more than a quarter of all the municipalities in the country. Why did some states and municipalities vote out the PRI sooner than others? Why have some states and municipalities still not removed the PRI? These questions are the subject of this study. After testing various theories on democratization, this study finds that migration plays a key role in explaining subnational democratization in Mexico. Migratory flows transformed the composition of voters on localities, increasing the proportion of PRI voters in some localities and decreasing it in others. This fluidity in subnational electorates explains why the PRI lost power in some localities but not in others. Specifically, this study finds that domestic emigration increases the likelihood of the PRI staying power in a state, while U.S. emigration decreases it. This is due to the different compositions of domestic and U.S. migration. Domestic migrants tend to have higher incomes and more education, characteristics associated with opposition voters. Hence, as domestic emigration in a state increases, the proportion of opposition voters in that state decreases, making it more likely for the PRI to stay in power. By contrast, U.S. emigrants tend to have lower incomes and less education, characteristics associated with PRI voters. Hence, as U.S. emigration in a state increases, the proportion of PRI voters in that state decreases, making it less likely for the PRI to stay in power. This study’s results suggest that domestic migration polarizes the mosaic of subnational democratization. As opposition voters migrate from PRI states to opposition states, opposition voters become increasingly concentrated in opposition states, while PRI voters become increasingly concentrated in PRI states. Hence, opposition states become increasingly democratic, while PRI states become increasingly undemocratic.
Extent: 93 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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