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Second Generation Reform in Latin America: Reforming the public sector in Uruguay and Mexico


Uruguay and Mexico have both passed laws aiming to professionalise the public sector bureaucracy according to what might be considered ‘second generation’ reform principles. They did so under what might initially have seemed to be politically unpropitious circumstances. The reforms might have been vetoed by interests that feared that they would lose out from the changes, but were not. They might have been blocked by conditions of minority presidentialism, but were not. This article seeks to explain the successful passing of this reform legislation. Framing issues played a significant role in reducing opposition. Notably important was the way in which the reforms were presented, and specifically the ability of their proponents to avoid presenting them as market-friendly reforms. The political context also provided the reformers with arguments that in the end proved persuasive.

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The authors wish to thank the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for funding a research project entitled ‘Transferring Good Governance: the importance of legitimatory ideas’ as part of its Future Governance Programme. In pursuing this project, the authors carried out a number of confidential interviews in Mexico City (Philip) and Montevideo (Panizza). Where non-confidential interview material is used, it is listed separately in the footnotes.
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Journal of Latin American Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-216X
  • EISSN: 1469-767X
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-latin-american-studies
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