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Title: Understanding the nature of presidential policymaking in Mexico through an agenda-setting approach
Author: Aranda Jan, Ana Carolina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 4857
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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In Latin American democracies, the figure of the president is often considered to be an actor with considerable capacity for agenda-setting and a significant role in in influencing the definition of policy agendas. Scholarship has frequently analysed the role and function of the president including institutional changes to the presidency and changes in the constitutional and agenda setting powers of the president. The process by which the president in influences prioritisation of issues to be handled by an administration in their policy agendas has not been fully examined. A case in point is the Mexican presidency that allows testing for hypotheses about agenda-setting in a context in which democracy is replacing autocratic forms of policy-making. This thesis identities some of the factors that determine the propensity of presidents to attend to policy issues. It postulates and tests existing theories on agenda-setting to form a hypothesis on punctuated equilibrium theory for a democratisation context. In this task, it uses a new dataset of Informe de Gobierno presidential speeches between 1988 and 2015. The empirical analysis finds that the theory of punctuated equilibrium applies to presidential agendas in Mexico. The causal process explaining these patterns is the presence of bounded rationality and institutional friction. The institutional characteristics of this presidential system, with a separation of powers and multipartism, explain much of the institutional friction against policy changes. A negative feedback process, emerging from the presence of political fragmentation, holds the presidential agenda in a long-term equilibrium. Meanwhile, a president's entrepreneurial behaviour enhances a positive feedback process through formation of political coalitions that helps to reach agreements between political actors. The analysis also finds that institutional friction limits Mexican presidents' ability to convey priorities into other stages of the policy making process. This thesis provides evidence that the Mexican president is a strategic political actor that anticipates shifts in the political environment and adjusts the presidential policy priorities accordingly. The thesis concludes with a general discussion concerning the study of presidential policy making and policy agendas in Mexico in particular and, in general, in democratisation contexts.
Supervisor: Jennings, William Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available