The politics of privatization policies at local level in Mexico : the case of the water utilities in Aguascalientes
This thesis assesses the extent and relevance of the prevailing debate over the use of privatization schemes at a local level in Mexico, after decades of highly centralised and rigid political and economic decision-making. The aim is to examine the privatization debate by analysing events following the modifications made to Article 115 of the Mexican constitution in 1983, which marked the inception of a new set of policies regarding the provision of public utilities at the local level. The theory of privatisation, as promoted by the Mexican Government, was for the first time on the political agenda, and debate spread rapidly. However, because research into privatisation has hitherto focused largely on economic explanations, this thesis will instead attempt to analyse the politics of the privatisation programme at a local level. Basically, it looks to explain and demonstrate that economic policies are subject to political scrutiny and demands. The process of moving the control of traditionally government services from federal to state and thus to local level seems to be an ongoing trend focused upon encouraging improved governance capabilities and increased social wealth. Far from achieving this, though, it has instead generated great controversy in the political arena concerning the implementation of public policies. Increasing concern regarding the size of governments in the Mexican municipalities, and thus their ability to cope with the provision of public utilities, has prompted these authorities to pursue their objectives by means of privatisation programmes. Of such programmes, the vast majority have taken the form of concession schemes, and it is one such scheme, concerning water utilities in the city of Aguascalientes, that represents both the most controversial and, consequently, forms our case study.