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A New Time For Mexico?

The PRI is celebrating victory in yesterday's election. I wonder if Mexico will really change. Here is something I wrote about the Mexican state and politics in 1992, twenty years ago almost to the day. 

“The analogies sometimes drawn between recent political changes in Mexico and Eastern Europe apply equally well to the often disastrous consequences of state leadership ['rectoría del estado'] in large areas of production of services. Public ownership and pervasive state intervention are now under the spotlight of policy reform. By most economic and social standards of performance, state producer monopolies have proved poor substitutes for competition, enterprise autonomy and private ownership.

There comes a point beyond which traditional bureaucratic modes of patronage and cronyism become incompatible with the modernization and rational administration of public services. This is especially evident in the absence of a real structural separation between the regulators and the producers of state-sector goods and services. Public ownership conflates these functions in a network of relatively autonomous state-centred interest groups which may be fluid and in conflict with one another…

Similar criticisms of the existing model of state leadership in Mexico were quietly expressed by the more radical young technocrats of the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) during the 1982-8 'sexenio'. By 1988 it seemed they would safely secure a safe mandate to attempt sweeping reforms from within, with a modernizing Mexican Gorbachev [Carlos Salinas] at the helm. But, even before the presidential elections of that year, aspects of the restructuring of the state sector met with considerable opposition from old-guard 'políticos', and from the 'técnicos' and 'especialistas', sections of the bureaucracy which dominate public service and utility agencies.