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Global South Powers in Transition

A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and South Africa

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Edited By Deon Geldenhuys and Humberto González

Employing a novel collaborative transnational methodology, this ground-breaking book presents the first comprehensive and systematic comparison of Mexico and South Africa. Although geographically, historically and diplomatically far apart, Mexico and South Africa are ambitious and influential powers in the Global South and also experience wide-ranging domestic transitions. A binational team of 26 researchers from the two countries, all specialists in their respective disciplines, probe the transitions that Mexico and South Africa are undergoing in areas such as socio-cultural diversity, domestic politics, economic development, labour dynamics, social and territorial inequality, food security, crime and violence, and foreign relations. The detailed country studies allow the authors to identify striking similarities but also profound differences between the two societies. In so doing, the book helps to explain Mexico and South Africa to each other but also to the world at large.

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CHAPTER 3 The political dynamics of democratisation

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CHAPTER 3

The political dynamics of democratisation

General introduction

Alberto Aziz-Nassif and Nicola de Jager

Mexico and South Africa might not, at first glance, be obvious cases to compare. Yet there are two key similarities, in terms of their political dynamics, that we consider reason enough to look a little closer. The first is having or having had a dominant party system in which one party dominates over a prolonged period of time in a context of regular multi-party elections and also dominates the polity and policymaking (De Jager and Du Toit 2013: 7; Aziz-Nassif 2003). Mexico was governed by the Partido Revolucionarìo Instìtucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI) for over 70 years. The nature of its dominance would change though from a hegemonic party system to a more democratic one. Interestingly, even though Mexico experienced an alternation in power starting with the Partido de Acción Nacional (National Action Party, PAN) winning the presidency in 2000, the electorate returned the PRI to power in 2012. South Africa too experienced both a hegemonic party system, under the oligarchic rule of the NP from 1948–94, and a more democratic dominant party system since 1994. The ANC, a former liberation movement, won South Africa’s first non-racial democratic elections in 1994 and remains in power today.

Our second reason for arguing for the value of comparison is that Mexico and South Africa are Global South powers that have transitioned into democratic...

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