Mexican National Leadership: Dr. Roderic Camp on "Has Democracy Made a Difference?"
Roderic Camp, Phillip McKenna Professor at Claremont McKenna College, discussed the impact of Mexico's democratic transition on the composition and characteristics of Mexican political leadership. He observed that there were striking differences between the post-democratic transition generation, which emerged after the 2000 election of the first opposition party president, Vicente Fox Quesada, and the generation that took assumed leadership after the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920).
One characteristic of the post-transition leadership – across party lines – is their much more frequent background in state and local government, Camp noted. He emphasized the importance of local families in particular in the democratic transition itself, some of whose ancestries can be traced back to the Porfirio Díaz era before the revolution.
Camp addressed the composition of different political parties after the transition as well. Whereas half of Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) leaders had held government positions but had not been active in the party's institutions, leaders from the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) since 2000 have been overwhelmingly tied to the party structure, having directly participated in campaigning activities during the party's ascendance. Camp attributed this to the co-optation technique of the PRI, whereby leaders of all political bents were grouped together in the dominant party; therefore, leaders who were ideologically different from the PRI mainstream may have held office but were less interested in participating in party activities. Members of the Partido de la Revolución Democrátoca (PRD), he added, share many of the PRI characteristics because they had been members of the PRI before they branched off into the PRD.
Camp also discussed the current security situation in Mexico and the Mexican Government's fight against organized crime. He argued that military involvement in Ciudad Juárez and in other areas was an essential stop-gap measure to prevent violence from reaching even more critical levels. He cautioned, however, that sending the army alone would be insufficient to build up law enforcement capacity in those areas and that the Mexican military has limitations in its training for police work.
Camp's book on this research is forthcoming, but it will include analysis on local leadership, party office-holding, women in Mexican politics, the rise and fall of technocratic leadership, differences in political career tracks, demographic variables, a comparison of violent and non-violent changes in elite composition and the importance of governors on national leadership. He used a working database that he has maintained for forty years and which includes the collective biography of over 3,000 Mexican leaders.