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Photo: “State building in San Miguel de Allende,” by Lisette Leballif licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. Hue modified from the original.

Behrend, Jacqueline. “Political dynasties and democracy in contemporary Mexico.” Latin American Policy 12, no. 2 (2021): 385-404.


The existence of political families is a well-known fact in Mexican politics. Since the early 20th century, national and subnational politicians in Mexico have been related to other politicians. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mexico initiated a democratization process that opened the political system to greater contestation, participation, and enforcement of electoral rules. Yet, 30 years after the onset of democratization and the demise of single-party rule, political families and dynasties continue to be important in Mexican politics. It is even more noticeable at the subnational level, where governors with blood or marital links to other politicians have governed in 27 of the 32 states (84%) since 1989. The aim of this article is to map the existence of subnational political dynasties in Mexico since the transition to democracy and to analyze some possible explanations of this phenomenon. The article makes three main contributions. First, it provides a comprehensive overview of the family relations of all governors elected to the 32 federal entities (states and the autonomous Mexico City) since 1989. Next, it explores some of the explanations advanced by the literature and analyses them in the Mexican case. Finally, it analyses the 2021 gubernatorial elections and the role that family politics played in these elections.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.