ABSTRACT

This chapter discusses how and why Mexico became so overcentralized, focuses primarily on the formal efforts of the de la Madrid and Salinas administrations, and reviews efforts to decentralize economic and political power during the last four presidential terms. It demonstrates that, however, from de la Madrid's Municipal Reform to Zedillo's New Federalism, decentralization has been the policy product of politically induced change, albeit often in the guise of an essentially administrative reform. Any assessment of Mexico's decentralization policies has to consider the country's urbanization process, which since the boom of the 1940s has led to an overwhelming concentration in metropolitan areas, especially in Mexico City itself. Although former presidents Echeverría and López Portillo showcased decentralization as an important policy issue, it was not a central element of their time in office. The chapter explores how centralization formed part of an imperative in the process of economic development and political consolidation in Mexico.