Assessing Constitutional Efficacy: Lessons from Mexico’s Hegemonic Party Era

  • Andrea Pozas-Loyo


Assessing the efficacy of a codified constitution has proven to be a very challenging proposition. In this chapter, I aim to contribute to the response to the challenge posed by observational equivalence of different types of motivation to behave in accordance with the constitution. I do so by focusing on a case of constitutional enforcement in Mexico under the authoritarian ruling of the PRI. I argue that understanding when and how constitutions are enforced in authoritarian contexts is interesting and relevant in itself, but also that it can shed fresh analytical light on constitutional efficacy under democratic regimes. Mexico was governed by a hegemonic party system centered in a powerful executive from 1929 to 2000. During these seven decades, the PRI had control over the Administration, the Federal Congress, the states’ Governments, and the Judiciary. The President was the cornerstone of a well-disciplined political system: he was the head of the government and the head of the party. Nevertheless, during this president-centered era, Article 83 of the Constitution that establishes a six-year presidential term without re-election was neither altered nor violated, by any President. Without doubt this constituted a very strong constraint on power on otherwise powerful individuals. Why could presidents neither change Article 83 nor violate it? Was Article 83 efficacious? How can we know? And what lesson can we draw from this case about how to assess constitutional efficacy in general? To answer these questions, I analyze President Miguel Alemán’s (1946–1952) unsuccessful attempt to seek re-election.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Pozas-Loyo
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones JurídicasUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMéxicoMexico

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