The Monster Within: Mexico’s Anti-corruption National System

  • Cristopher Ballinas ValdésEmail author


Classic institutionalism claims that even authoritarian and non-democratic regimens would prefer institutions where all members could make advantageous transactions. Thus, structural reform geared towards preventing and combating corruption should be largely preferred by all actors in any given setting. The puzzle, then, is why governments decide to maintain, or even create, inefficient institutions. A perfect example of this paradox is the establishment of the National Anti-corruption System (SNA) in Mexico. This is a watchdog institution, created to fight corruption, which is itself often portrayed as highly corrupted and inefficient. The limited scope of anti-corruption reforms in the country is explained by the institutional setting in which these reforms take place, where political behaviour is highly determined by embedded institutions that privilege centralized decision-making. Mexican reformers have historically privileged those reforms that increase their gains and power, and delayed and boycotted those that negatively affect them. Since anti-corruption reforms adversely affected rent extraction and diminished the power of a set of political actors, the bureaucrats who benefited from the current institutional setting embraced limited reforms or even boycotted them. Thus, to understand failed reforms it is necessary to understand the deep-rooted political institutions that shape the behaviour of political actors. This analysis is important for other modern democracies where powerful bureaucratic minorities are often able to block changes that would be costly to their interests, even if the changes would increase net gains for the country as a whole.


Democratic institutions Mexican presidentialism National Anti-corruption System Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy in Politics, University of OxfordOxfordUnited Kingdom

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