La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Monday, June 26, 2006

More on the electoral use of welfare in Mexico

The use of social welfare for political gain is nothing new. In fact, if governments don't provide social benefits to earn votes, they would they provide social benefits at all? Since the late 1980s, however, Mexican governments have been a bit more direct in their use of anti-poverty programs for electoral purposes. The most blatant effort was Salinas's use of Pronasol. Zedillo apparently cleaned up some of the most overt political manipulation when he converted Pronasol into Progresa, though some studies have found that Progresa was also a political tool. (I have a published paper on Pronasol; Tina Green has a good paper on Progresa.)

Recently, two studies have suggested that Oportunidades (the program that replaced Progresa) has also been politically manipulated, primarily by local politicians rather than the national government. This was the topic of the editorial I linked to last week.

Today's WaPo has an article discussing the findings of the two recent studies of Oportunidades. You can read the press release from one of the studies at the Alianza Civica website.

Just when you start to think that maybe democracy will improve the efficiency of anti-poverty programs or at least prevent the programs from being used as a tool of intimidation, the realities of rural Mexican politics surface.

posted by Michelle @ 1:10 PM,


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