Explaining political adaptation of former hegemonic parties: Is Eastern Europe the future of Mexico?

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Felipe Aguero - Committee Chair


This study examines the process of transformation experienced by the Mexican Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) with the objective of assessing if this previously non-competitive organization has adapted to new democratic conditions. Using an institutional framework, this dissertation contends that while the PRI's recent good electoral performance has been partially facilitated by the population's disenchantment with the first democratically elected government, the party's victories have also been a consequence of its own adaptive actions.Acknowledging that political adaptation of former hegemonic parties has taken place elsewhere, but that it is by no means, an inevitable phenomenon, this research also provides some insights regarding the factors that enable party renewal. By placing the Mexican PRI in comparative perspective with the former Communist parties of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, the present study explores why some formerly hegemonic parties are able to adapt while others are not. It contends that the possibility of party adaptation is influenced by the previous structure and practices of the party, and that these, in turn, are determined by the nature of the prior one-party regime; specifically, by the mechanisms that that regime employed for its legitimization (cooptation or repression).One-party regimes that relied on cooptation, such as Poland's, Hungary's or Mexico's, tended to have less rigid party apparatuses headed by pragmatic and skilled leaders, who would represent an asset once these parties began to face real electoral competition.


Political Science, General

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