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Can Gestures of Goodwill from the State Condition Attitudes in Post-Authoritarian Democracies?: A Field Experiment
Unformatted Document Text:  2 I. Introduction In the past decade and a half Mexico has made a steady move away from authoritarianism, and is now widely regarded as a successful new democracy. In 1997 the state implemented major electoral reforms, in 2000 the ruling party peacefully accepted electoral defeat, and in 2006 the country navigated through a much-contested presidential election (Camp 2003). The peaceful and somewhat orderly electoral transitions of the past ten years are strong indicators that Mexico is on the right track toward improving the quality of its democratic institutions, but they mean little if the general population does not possess the conviction necessary for democracy to flourish. As in any post-authoritarian democracy, Mexico’s future democratic success will be in large part dependent on the general attitudes and dispositions toward the regime. In recent years, scholarly attention has focused on the question of what Mexican democracy will look like. In particular, interest revolves around the formation of a strong participatory society. It is widely held that the quality of democratic life hinges on the liveliness of citizen participation (Gasiorowsk and Power 1998; Inglehart 1988, 2003; Muller and Seligson 1994; Putnam et al. 1993). Recent work on political engagement finds that it is not entirely clear what the future holds for Mexico. One possibility is that in the coming years, political participation will increase and stabilize, mimicking patterns in established democracies. Another possibility is that political participation will decline as Mexican voters slowly lose their democratic “verve” (Domínguez and McCann 1996; McCann 2005; McCann and Dominguez 1998). If large numbers of Mexican voters stop participating in politics it could spell trouble for the country’s stability. As McCann and Lawson (2003) explain, without engaged citizens retrospective voting cannot be seen as a

Authors: Nishikawa, Katsuo.
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I. Introduction
In the past decade and a half Mexico has made a steady move away from
authoritarianism, and is now widely regarded as a successful new democracy. In 1997
the state implemented major electoral reforms, in 2000 the ruling party peacefully
accepted electoral defeat, and in 2006 the country navigated through a much-contested
presidential election (Camp 2003). The peaceful and somewhat orderly electoral
transitions of the past ten years are strong indicators that Mexico is on the right track
toward improving the quality of its democratic institutions, but they mean little if the
general population does not possess the conviction necessary for democracy to flourish.
As in any post-authoritarian democracy, Mexico’s future democratic success will be in
large part dependent on the general attitudes and dispositions toward the regime.
In recent years, scholarly attention has focused on the question of what Mexican
democracy will look like. In particular, interest revolves around the formation of a strong
participatory society. It is widely held that the quality of democratic life hinges on the
liveliness of citizen participation (Gasiorowsk and Power 1998; Inglehart 1988, 2003;
Muller and Seligson 1994; Putnam et al. 1993). Recent work on political engagement
finds that it is not entirely clear what the future holds for Mexico. One possibility is that
in the coming years, political participation will increase and stabilize, mimicking patterns
in established democracies. Another possibility is that political participation will decline
as Mexican voters slowly lose their democratic “verve” (Domínguez and McCann 1996;
McCann 2005; McCann and Dominguez 1998). If large numbers of Mexican voters stop
participating in politics it could spell trouble for the country’s stability. As McCann and
Lawson (2003) explain, without engaged citizens retrospective voting cannot be seen as a


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