Decentralization and Citizen Participation in Mexico

Ilyana Albarran, Florida International University


During the past few decades, decentralization efforts in Mexico have coincided with efforts to democratize the administrative decision-making process. Adopted in 1988, the Programa Nacional de Solidaridad (National Solidarity Program; PRONASOL) required citizen participation in decisions involving the use of federal resources for regional development and poverty alleviation projects. In 1998, Section 33 of the Ley de Coordinacion Fiscal (Fiscal Coordination Law; LCF) placed Social Infrastructure Funds (SIF) directly under the supervision of municipalities and retained the requirement that citizens participate in decisions involving the allocation of funds. The present study seeks to understand the factors that affect the participation of citizen committees (composed of community members; organized to address a particular cause) in SIF allocation decisions and assess the impact of this form of citizen participation on government performance. To pursue this objective, the study analyzes the implementation of LCF with respect to the role of citizen committees in SIF allocation decisions at two different locations: the township of Santa Maria Tonantzintla, located in the municipality of San Andres Cholula, in the state of Puebla, and the rural municipality of Tenango Del Aire, located in El Estado de Mexico (the State of Mexico). The study finds that gender, church participation, and personal economy play major roles in the formation of citizen committees. Although the citizen committees have been instrumental in getting their SIF projects prioritized, they have had little effect on the quality or efficiency with which the projects were carried out. In general, the municipal decision-making process in both municipalities lack mechanisms to guarantee citizen participation and thus to ensure consideration of the broader public interest beyond the interest of organized groups. Because SIF can be used for various economic development projects, such as water, sewage, electrification, emergency clinics, and schools, it was of particular importance to determine whether the participatory mechanism was functioning correctly. Given the nature of the projects carried out by municipalities, flaws in the implementation process, including failures to include the broader public, could hinder not only local economic development, but also the economic growth of the nation.

Subject Area

Public administration|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Albarran, Ilyana, "Decentralization and Citizen Participation in Mexico" (2015). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10002854.