Subnational Electoral Contexts and Corruption in Mexico

Brian M. Faughnan, Jonathan T. Hiskey, Scott D. Revey


Scholars of the world’s most recent democratization processes have tended to focus on how national-level institutions have developed and how citizens have interpreted and responded to those developments. In this paper, we argue that the distinct subnational political environments that emerge from uneven national regime transitions are important determinants of how people view their political world. Specifically, we argue that citizens’ experiences with and attitudes towards corruption are particularly influenced by the subnational political context in which those citizens live. We use survey data from across Mexico to test our theoretical expectations that a multi-party electoral context will heighten citizens’ awareness of corruption as a governance issue, even as their chances of being victimized by corrupt behavior is reduced. Conversely, we posit that one-party electoral environments should facilitate a “business as usual” attitude toward corruption among government officials and citizens. As efforts to deepen democracy and improve governance continue across the developing world, our findings highlight the need to incorporate subnational political processes into efforts to under-stand and address such critical issues as corruption and its consequences.

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