Democracy Within Reason

Technocratic Revolution in Mexico

By (author) Miguel Angel Centeno

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

13 January 1997

Length of book:

304 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271023908

During the 1980s the Mexican regime faced a series of economic, social, and political disasters that led many to question its survival. Yet by 1992 the economy was again growing, with inflation under control and the confidence of international investors restored. Mexico was now touted as an example for regimes in Eastern Europe to emulate.

How did Carlos Salinas and his team of technocrats manage to gain political power sufficient to impose their economic model? How did they sustain their revolution from above despite the hardships these changes brought for many Mexicans? How did they stage their remarkable political comeback and create their “democracy within reason”? Why did Salinas succeed in keeping control of his revolution while Mikhail Gorbachev failed to do so in his similar effort at radical reform?

Miguel Centeno addresses these questions by analyzing three critical developments in the Mexican state: the centralization of power within the bureaucracy; the rise of a new generation of technocrats and their use of a complex system of political networks; and the dominance of a neoliberal ideology and technocratic vision that guided policy decisions and limited democratic participation. In his conclusion the author proposes some alternative scenarios for Mexico’s future, including the role of NAFTA, and suggests lessons for the study of regimes undertaking similar transitions.

Of obvious interest to students of contemporary Mexico and Latin America, the book will also be very useful for those analyzing the transition to the market in other countries, the role of knowledge in public policy, and the nature of the modern state in general.

“Centeno turns this fascinating story to good analytical account, and there is recurrent and well-balanced reference to both Russian and Eastern Europe and East Asia; the book is relevant not only to Latin and North Americanists but to all students of comparative politics, especially those interested in the recent wave of democratic transitions and market reforms.”

—Joe Foweraker, Political Studies