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The Poverty of Democracy: Neoliberal Reforms and Political Participation of the Poor in Mexico

  • Claudio A. Holzner

Twenty years after governments across Latin America began implementing neoliberal reforms in earnest, concern is growing about their impact on the quality of democracy in the region. This article examines this issue in the case of Mexico by exploring how patterns of political participation, especially among the rural and urban poor, have changed since the implementation of free market reforms. It asks whether the institutional innovations associated with free market reforms make it easier or more difficult for the poor to participate in Mexico's political process. The answer is not encouraging. Despite democratic openings, the new linkages between the state and citizens established as a result of the transition to a free market development model stifle the voice of the poor not through the threat of force or coercion, but by creating obstacles and disincentives for political mobilization that affect the poor more severely than other groups.

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Latin American Politics and Society
  • ISSN: 1531-426X
  • EISSN: 1548-2456
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