Gerrymandering Opposition: Minority-Concentrated Districts and Electoral Competition in Mexico

  • Anne Meng
  • Brian Palmer-RubinEmail author


Can institutions that are designed to improve minority representation also have an effect on electoral competition? We address this question by examining how minority-concentrated districts (MCDs)—designed to empower indigenous populations—affected minority participation and party competition in Mexico. Using an original dataset and a matching design that helps alleviate causal inference problems inherent to observational studies, we find that MCDs had no effect on minority participation but enhanced electoral competition. Field-research reveals that MCDs weakened one-party dominance by assembling minority voting blocs that were amenable to opposition-party appeals. More broadly, our results suggest that the mobilization of minority voting blocs can promote electoral competition in transitional democracies.


Redistricting Minority participation Electoral competition Indigenous politics Mexico 



The authors thank Leonardo Arriola, Svitlana Chernykh, Ruth Berins Collier, David Collier, Danny Hidalgo, María Inclán, Robert Powell, Jasjeet Sekhon, Laura Stoker, Leonard Wantchekon, Jason Wittenberg, three anonymous reviewers, and members of the SCID Editorial collective for suggestions and comments. We also thank seminar participants in U.C. Berkeley’s Comparative Politics Colloquium and Statistics of Causal Inference Seminar, and the Empirical Implications of Theoretical Models Summer Institute for helpful comments, as well as Jonathan Fox and Willibald Sonnleitner for sharing data. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the 2012 Midwest Political Science Association. We acknowledge Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía and Instituto Federal Electoral for providing census and electoral data.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 120 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Travers Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Ash Center for Democratic Governance and InnovationHarvard Kennedy SchoolCambridgeUSA

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