Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 January 2018
For much of the twentieth century, Third World economies that were based upon import-substitution industrialization (ISI) were dominated by authoritarian regimes. When economic liberalization began to overtake many of these countries, however, as happened in recent years, the question arose as to whether authoritarian rule had not become anachronistic in mediating the relations between state and economy in the Third World.
The experience of Mexico strongly suggests that authoritarian rule remains a potent force in this era of economic change. Although Mexico's authoritarian government continued to retain power even in the presence of a liberal economic agenda, adopted during the early 1990s, it did find it expedient to make some adaptations in the system. The most significant of these, by far, was to make alterations in the ruling coalition that had governed the country since the early 1930s, rather than to embark upon a transition to democracy. These changes represented the regime's most critical initiative in attempting to meet, if not reconcile, the conflicting claims of authoritarianism on the one hand with the demands of economic liberalization on the other.