Savage Democracy

Institutional Change and Party Development in Mexico

By (author) Steven T. Wuhs

Hardback - £37.95

Publication date:

19 November 2008

Length of book:

192 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271034218

Mexico finally shed its authoritarian past with the victory of the PAN candidate Vicente Fox in the 2000 election. But the consolidation and growth of democracy in Mexico have been complicated by the institutional residues of the past. Steven Wuhs’s investigation of the PAN and PRD begins by depicting how the PRI functioned and then, in successive chapters, compares how PAN and PRD leaders reacted to the PRI’s institutions in choosing rules for selecting candidates to run for office, organizing their party’s bureaucracy, and linking to groups in civil society. What he shows is that “savage democracy has undermined the nomination of electable candidates, fostered intense intraparty factions and fights, and interfered with the development of party organizations capable of mounting effective campaigns.”

Savage Democracy presents a provocative analysis of the perverse effects of internal democracy within political parties on the functioning of democracy at the regime level, based on richly detailed field research, extensive interviews, and internal party documents. Far too little attention has been paid to the political effects of the internal organizational choices made by political parties. Most research concentrates on external institutional constraints, such as electoral law. Wuhs does a nice job of highlighting how democratic decision-making norms constrain party leaders and lead to unanticipated consequences for the electoral fortunes of the parties as well as their behavior in power. Though based on a study of political parties in Mexico, it should be of interest to scholars of parties and Mexican democracy more generally. It is written at an accessible level and could be used for advanced undergraduate classes, but presents sophisticated arguments that scholars at all ranks should appreciate.”

—Kathleen Bruhn, University of California, Santa Barbara