End of Clientelism

This week the article The End of clientelism? strong and weak networks in a Mexican squatter movement, written by Claudio Holzner, reflected on the structures of political parties and the effects they had on specifically the poor population in Mexico. His articles attempts the answer the puzzle of why poorer populations remain loyal to specific political parties even though they generally do more harm to the poor than good. Mexico is plagued with a large history of clientelistic political parties that have been historically inclined to help the rich become richer, and leave the poor in a less than stellar position. Clientelism can be defined as garnering electoral support by giving material goods. And frankly, it is rather surprising that clientelism is still thriving in Mexico considering the large leaps the country has made with neoliberal reforms and frankly a truer democratic status.


Holzner goes into great detail about how poor communities in Mexico are very likely to stay loyal to a political party due to the fact they simply do not have the political experience or expertise to understand how to get their goals achieved, because only recently have the poor begun to organize in a manner and start creating coalitions that know how to navigate the political field. But contrary to other revolutionary gatherings that occurred throughout Latin and South America, Mexico is still heavily relying on its old clientelism ways. Holzner goes about explaining this by stating “these lessons do not transfer easily to the Mexican case, where the state had a almost monopolistic control over organizational life and the transition to democracy has been gradual and largely controlled by the PRI”. The PRI Holzner refers to is the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution which ran Mexico’s state government from 1929-2000 and was basically them poster child of the clientelism that was previously described. Holzner continues throughout his article to explain that the PRI is still a successful political party even with the poor because of their networking ability and their long standing position of power that they held in Mexico.


Though many believed the PRI would become much less powerful after losing the 2000 election and the countless reforms that came after. But even to this day they are a prominent figure and the current President Enrique Pena Nieto is a member of the PRI, confirming their status as a powerful political party. So much as Holzner discusses in his article, the idea of clientelism in Mexico simply has to large a hold on the country to be going away anytime soon.