Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ten Years Later

Leo Zuckermann takes stock ten years after Fox's election:
Where are we ten years after Fox's historic victory?

I am among those who think that today we are better off than we were 30 or 40 years ago. That democracy, with all of its defects, is a political regime superior to the authoritarianism that Mexico experienced for more than 70 years. Today, fortunately, there is more liberty and transparency. Today, despite many tricks and problems, the fact is that public officials are elected in the ballot box and not tapped by the president. But I also see many threats to the democracy that has not finished its consolidation in Mexico.

I think that organized crime is the greatest challenge for the Mexican state and its political system. Nothing illustrates the threat to democracy better than the murder of Rodolfo Torre Cantú, the future governor of Tamaulipas, exactly ten years after the change in power. The image is clear: criminals exercising veto power over the vote of the citizens.

Democracy is also threatened by myriad political actors who in recent years have done much to tar it. The parties, for example, have turned into the principal promoters of the culture of cheating. They have hte power to establish the rules of the democratic game and they are the first to not follow the norms that they themselves establish. They prohibited the use of public money to buy votes and they jump to design all sorts of strategies to get around this prohibition. They restrict the purchase of ad space in electronic media and they ump to offer briefcases full of money to radio and television execs to buy interviews, reports, or infomercials for their candidates.

And what can we say about the threat from interest groups (they are now called "factional powers", I suppose because the terms is more attractive in the media) that, with the weakness of the governments without a majority in Congress, have become stronger than ever. Unions with a great capacity for electoral mobilization that in return receive protection, privileges, and benefits. Or monopolistic business groups that support the parties and candidates in exchange for detaining legislation that affects their interests.

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