Impact of the Mexican electoral system evolution on representation, strategic voting, and democratization

Date of Completion

January 2005


Political Science, General




This study addresses the impact of electoral systems on representation and electoral behavior. Specifically, I wanted to see the extent to which the evolution of Mexico's electoral system affected the institutional representation and strategic voting. Theories on institutional representation, electoral strategic coordination, and legitimacy are the framework of my analysis. My argument is threefold. First, as the electoral system became more permissive, the institutional representation improved. Second, the one-vote ballot applied in mixed member proportional systems (Mexico's case) discourages strategic voting. Finally, the Mexican government initiated electoral reforms to avoid problems of legitimacy. In general, results confirm my hypotheses. ^ I divide the analysis into four phases: The One-Party System, 1946-63; The Classic Period, 1963-77; The Democratizing Phase, 1976-87; and The Consolidation Era, 1988-2003. I apply both qualitative and quantitative analyses. Results confirm that every electoral reform was associated with socioeconomic crises and problems of illegitimacy. The series of reforms that started in 1977 systematically prevented the opposition parties and voters from coordinating behind a single challenger to the official party. The one-vote ballot system confirms this argument. However, still some people in Mexico vote for a party other than the most preferred one. Therefore, I introduce a model to explain this non-sincere - sincere voting. In general, people having extreme pro non-sincere voting values on three statistically significant variables have about 59.68 percent chances of voting strategically, while those people having the extreme pro sincere voting values have about 68.94 percent chances of voting sincerely. So people in general tend to vote sincerely. My study will help us understand voting behavior in other new democracies having a mixed electoral system with one vote ballot. ^