Voters' Mobilization Where Partisan Attachments Are Weak. Mayors and Electoral Mobilization in Mexico

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: Booth 45
Oral Presentation
Alejandra ARMESTO , Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico
Political parties are expected to play a central role in mobilizing citizens to participate in election. In new democracies, where party attachments are weak and parties and elections might lack legitimacy, the absence of a stable party membership makes canvassing efforts more difficult. In nascent democracies that have undergone decentralization, electoral mobilization is likely to rely on local level politicians, who are responsible for providing basic services crucial to citizens’ well-being. I explore this proposition by looking at the influence of mayors on electoral results in Mexico, a polity that has recently experienced transition to democracy and remarkable fiscal decentralization. Because of their expenditure responsibilities Mexican mayors have comparative advantages relative to other local politicians who are not directly responsible for delivering policy benefits (e.g., local legislators and city council members). Besides, due to the perceived closeness to their constituencies, mayors are stronger vote brokers than local politicians with executive powers but whose constituencies are larger or more diffuse (i.e., the state governor). The hypothesis is tested by analyzing the effects of mayors’ party on the electoral results obtained by the three main Mexican parties, PAN, PRI, and PRD between 1990 and 2012 in all elections (federal, local, executive and legislative). The analyses control for the socio-economic determinants of the vote and for historical voting trends. The causal mechanisms are explored through in-depth interviews with 20 local politicians. The results show that mayor’s party has a positive and significant effect on the vote shares obtained by each party in all elections. These findings contribute to the discussion about voter mobilization in new democracies.