Friday, September 17, 2010

Recommended read on Oaxaca "neo-patrimonialism"

I just wanted to draw attention to an excellent analysis on Oaxacan politics and the concept of "neo-patrimonialism by Julian Durazo-Herrmann, of Université du Québec à Montréal."Neo-Patrimonialism and Subnational Authoritarianism in Mexico. The Case of Oaxaca" offers a wonderfully succinct and well-written (a rarity in academic works) summary and analysis of recent political history in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and the author applies and further develops the concept of "neo-patrimonialism" as an analyical tool to explain Oaxaca's trajectory. 

Despite Mexico's 2000 transition on the national level, authoritarianism remained, and even deepened, in several of Mexico's states.  Durazo-Herrmann argues, 

"In many cases, however, neo-patrimonial elites can adjust, adopting formally democratic reforms while continuing to pursue authoritarian practices, at least over some aspects of the subnational political system (Gervasoni 2010 in this issue). This long and ambiguous process of political adaptation and restructuring is known as hybridization and allows for – and serves to legitimize – the coexistence of formally democratic political institutions with authoritarian practices." (p. 88)
While Oaxaca's distinct social make-up has provided fertile breeding ground for neo-patrimonialism, the concept should be applicable to several more of particularly Mexico's southern states, though Oaxaca may represent the textbook case. While its "neo-patrimonial domination system" remained up until the present, the 2010 victory of Gabino Cué may well signal the beginning of the end - or the end of the beginning of the end - of this authoritarian practice. 

The paper is published in the new excellent journal Journal of Politics in Latin America, which is, unlike most high-quality academic journals available entirely for free. It is well worth your time. 

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