A “Perfect Dictatorship”: The PRI, Corruption, and Autocracy in Mexico

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Mexico’s celebrated democratic transition in the year 2000 belied the centuries of authoritarian rule that preceded it. From the start of Spanish colonialism in 1519, Mexico has been a monarchy and a personalist dictatorship, and was most recently a single-party dictatorship helmed by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) for over seventy years. The PRI’s decades-long rule may be surprising to observers given Mexico’s proximity to the United States, a country that has long sought to promote democratic rule in the region. This paper explores the reasons behind the longevity of the PRI’s rule, especially given the failure of other authoritarian forms of government in Mexico’s history. We found that the structural conditions following the Mexican Revolution favored the creation of a party-based regime, as many former revolutionaries later became party elites. These findings form a basis through which to understand the current political environment in Mexico, as well as a cautionary tale for those who wish to protect the democratic institutions in this fledgling democracy.


How to Cite: Khan, M. A. & Lara-Garcia, A. (2021) “A “Perfect Dictatorship”: The PRI, Corruption, and Autocracy in Mexico”, Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies. 7(0).