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Alongside elected politicians, other non-elected agents also act in making binding governmental decisions. They do so in the name of individuals or collective entities, such as corporations, trade associations, unions or churches. Their manoeuvres are supposed to be parallel to operations by elected representatives because they have achieved their status by other means, private rather than public. However, the two often intertwine and at times confront each other. Given that these private representatives tend to be moved by their interests and preferences, it is crucial to observe how they influence elected policymakers who ought to be concerned with the general well-being of constituents. Understanding those effects is crucial if we are to assess the quality of democracy in a country. During Mexico’s long democratic transition (in the late 20th century), several business associations gained visibility. This chapter focuses on the Executive Council of Global Corporations (Consejo Ejecutivo de Empresas Globales, CEEG), which emerged in 2004 and has significantly impacted public decisions. The chapter has four main sections and a conclusion. The first section is devoted to the birth of the organization. The second analyses how it built its object of representation. The third and fourth explain the organization’s operations and conduct.

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This Afterword summarizes some of the main contributions to our understanding of the theory of representation and its practice to be found in the volume. It emphasizes the importance of detailed perspectives from authors located in, and writing from, the Global South, and notes several ways in which the chapters innovate around the idea of the representative claim.

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Meanings, Practices and Settings

Mexico is a country whose global political and economic significance are rapidly increasing. This book offers the first in-depth English-language analysis of the politics of representation in Mexico.

Through innovative conceptual work and original case studies, the book explores important trends in Mexican politics and governance through the lens of representation, including who speaks and stands for whom, on what grounds and in what domains and the challenges they face.

Revealing a significant portrait of major tensions in and challenges to democracy across Mexico emerges, this book will be of interest to those researching current trends in the theory and practice of political representation, and readers looking for new perspectives on Mexican politics and governance.

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This chapter focuses on issues of gender and indigenous representation, specifically the politics of gender-parity representation in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It highlights tensions in Mexico between legal and explicit norms, on the one hand, and tacit or community norms, on the other hand, as well as between federal, state and local norms. The state government’s gender-parity laws met with resistance from indigenous groups. Possible explanations for this resistance range from the distinctive features of political and social organization in indigenous communities, with adherence to predominantly patriarchal customs and traditions, to the institutional differences and asymmetric relationship between municipal and state powers. Taking these two perspectives as complementary, this chapter aims to deepen the current understanding of gender-parity issues in Oaxaca by analysing the construction of the ‘object’ of representation and focusing on its ‘maker’. The main idea is that what is to be represented, on the one hand, and who decides who is or can be representative, on the other hand, has an impact on both representatives and representees. This analytical perspective will contribute to understanding not only community members’ adverse reactions to appointing women councillors but also the difficulties for indigenous women in exercising representation.

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Chapter 5 analyses demands for inclusion and dialogue from citizens affected by a significant governmental urban planning initiative in Mexico City, the Chapultepec Urban Project. It studies their incorporation into formal and informal deliberative arenas that led to an official referendum resulting in the project’s cancellation. Building on the work of Habermas on deliberation and Saward on representation, the author analyses the process by which citizens challenged critical features of the urban project and, by so doing, challenged the governmental claim to represent their needs and preferences. The analysis of the controversy captures the dynamics of the protest, the government’s reactions and the strategic adjustments by both representatives and represented. It shows that deliberative forums can emerge from either protesters’ or government officials’ proposals. These forums can support the diffusion of governmental information and lead to the incorporation of citizens’ contributions into government projects; their realization opens up a potential route to reaffirming government legitimacy.

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This chapter adapts Saward’s notion of representative claim to study the electoral achievement of coalition Juntos Haremos Historia (We Will Make History Together, JHH), in the 2018 Mexican election. This coalition was led by Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (Movement for the Regeneration of the Nation, MORENA), a new party founded by Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who became its presidential candidate. JHH won the presidential election by a landslide. We argue that this result is a case of effective claim-making, based upon a populist and Messianic discourse in a context of widespread representative disaffection that developed after Mexico’s democratic transition. After noting how the representative claim perspective helps to understand how representation’s complexities unfold as part of democratic advance or deterioration, the chapter discusses the conditions that strengthened AMLO’s cause, in particular citizen disaffection with political parties and politicians. The chapter goes on to describe the winning claim-‘makers’: AMLO, MORENA and JHH. Finally, the chapter discusses the representative claims put forward by JHH and analyses the circumstances that made them effective and considers the risks to democracy associated with the emergence of a new dominant party and the new president’s populist discourse.

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The Introduction provides theoretical and political context for the analysis of representation in a range of settings in Mexico that follow in subsequent chapters. It discusses the core concept of the representative claim and shows how the other eight chapters provide a coherent, multifaceted and theoretically informed journey through the politics of representation in contemporary Mexico. Noting the uneven process of democratization in the country, the Introduction describes how the words and actions of representatives, those represented and audiences matter, both in party and electoral politics and in the wider array of formal and informal settings of representation analysed in the volume.

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Building on a distinction between ‘ontological’ and ‘political’ dimensions of representation, this chapter examines representation in community development discourse as originated by international agencies and non-governmental organizations. Ontological representation refers to symbolic or discursive processes through which social actors characterize some aspect of reality in order to understand, explain or control it. The chapter’s primary concern is the manner in which community development practitioners claim the authority and the capacity to select leaders or volunteers to represent the communities with whom they work. The chapter’s findings are organized chronologically. The discussion first examines a prominent example of community development discourse from the 1950s, and then assesses a variety of contemporary expressions of community development discourse. Empirical work extends existing scholarship on representation in contexts that are beyond the formal and institutional spheres of electoral politics. The chapter’s key contribution to such scholarship is to link the ontological and political dimensions of representation – to demonstrate that within community development discourse the way one makes claims to represent communities presupposes a set of assumptions about the nature of such communities.

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At the local level of Mexican politics, civil society still finds ways to influence governments and become part of important decisions. In several Mexican cities, large and small, civil society participation has enriched public affairs, showing that effective collaboration among sectors is possible. This chapter deals with three examples of such collaboration in the past two decades from the State of Yucatán, where government and civil society can boast several experiences that have united different actors to confront local problems and forge satisfactory solutions. Although some severe social conflicts in the state reflect the country’s prevailing problems of representation and participation, those processes also exhibit elements that are important for plural collaboration between government and society, such as good leadership, development of communicative abilities, and use of networks. A favourable political context and well-designed political strategies from demanding actors have been particularly important. The chapter reports evidence from three empirical case studies that a democratic culture-building process has become rooted in Yucatán with more speed and strength than in many other parts of the country. This includes the multiplication of civil society organizations and governments’ positive disposition to engage in collaboration with social actors.

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In this chapter Castaños and Monsiváis-Carillo demonstrate how theoretical debate and disagreement over the meaning of representation stems from the fact that the concept is ‘essentially contestable’. Through a critique of prominent approaches to the concept, notably those by Pitkin and Pettit, the authors show how the representative claim approach is to be preferred in the context of this conceptual contestability. The chapter illustrates its argument via analyses of electoral contests that have had significant consequences for the dynamics of Mexico’s democracy.

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