Monday, June 26, 2006

MEXICAN DEMOCRACY -- Mexicans are preparing to go to the polls, but will the election be clean?
The death of one-party rule in Mexico promised a new era of cleaner elections.

But two studies suggest that the first presidential contest since Vicente Fox ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party's seven-decade hold on power in 2000 may be tainted by many of the same coercive tactics that marred previous balloting.
For example: "Eleven people, including four police officers, were murdered over the weekend in southern Mexico, officials said Sunday. Drug and gang-related violence have been rising in advance of Mexico's presidential election July 2."

This is an issue not only in Mexico, but in many other fragile democracies. The concern is that such political systems can be hollowed out by corruption so that they have the pomp and circumstance of true democracies, but lack the substantive traits of democratic government. That situation is corrosive and results in a rotting of social institutions, which creates a haven for the range of illicit actors, including traffickers and terrorists. For this reason, corruption in foreign governments can become a national security concern here at home. Accordingly, U.S. public diplomacy should include public integrity/anti-corruption efforts.