Forecasting Mexico's Democratic Transition
September 30, 2003
The political environment leading up to Mexico’s July 2000 presidential election was heavily charged with anxieties and hopes of all sorts. The potential risks and benefits surrounding a possible victory for Vicente Fox, the National Action Party (PAN) candidate, and a historic alternation of parties at the presidential level, were palpable because of recent trends in Mexico’s political landscape. The steady decline in the popularity of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), coupled with bold electoral reforms undertaken by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) in November 1996 had leveled the playing field enough to create a political environment that was ripe for change. It was a timely opportunity to initiate a study of possible outcomes of the 2000 elections, and it was in this context that CSIS decided to explore various political scenarios and their implications for U.S. policy toward Mexico as the United States was entering its own presidential campaign. This volume, which reports on the outcome of that effort, attempts to capture both the fervor of the moment as well as the more enduring lessons learned and their application to Mexican politics and the United States’ Mexico policy in the new era of democratic politics in that country.