Undermining the Rule of Law: Democratization and the Dark Side of Police Reform in Mexico

Authors

  • Diane E. Davis


ABSTRACT

This article asks whether democratization, under certain historical conditions, may relate to the deteriorating rule of law. Focusing on Mexico City, where police corruption is significant, this study argues that the institutionalized legacies of police power inherited from Mexico's one-party system have severely constrained its newly democratic state's efforts to reform the police. Mexico's democratic transition has created an environment of partisan competition that, combined with decentralization of the state and fragmentation of its coercive and administrative apparatus, exacerbates intrastate and bureaucratic conflicts. These factors prevent the government from reforming the police sufficiently to guarantee public security and earn citizen trust, even as the same factors reduce capacity, legitimacy, and citizen confidence in both the police and the democratically elected state. This article suggests that when democracy serves to undermine rather than strengthen the rule of law, more democracy can actually diminish democracy and its quality.

Ancillary