Jose Antonio Aguilar Rivera

Professor and Researcher in Political Science
Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE), Mexico City
Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow
University of Notre Dame

"Great Expectations: Democracy in Mexico and Its Discontents"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
12:30 pm - C103 Hesburgh Center

There is no doubt that democracy in Mexico has fallen short of expectations: it has not generated more social and economic equality, few people feel now that their participation in politics is more effective than before, the elected government often fails to respond to citizens’ demands, and some parts of the country now seem under the control of violent drug cartels. These failings certainly fuel the discontent of citizens with their democratic regime. Yet, my aim is to focus on other motives, less apparent, of intense political dissatisfaction. Mexicans are not satisfied with their democratic government, and not only because it has failed to provide them with the social goods that are usually expected, realistically or unrealistically, from democracy. They are also unhappy with the perceived gap between their idealized concept of democracy and the workings of existing democratic institutions. I will argue that to some extent an ahistorical, peculiar image of democracy has been constructed. My basic claim is that the critical standard of democracy held by Mexicans is flawed. This ideological misconception, I will try to demonstrate, has had pernicious effects, because it has fed unreasonable expectations and has blinded Mexicans to feasible reforms.