Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Corruption in Mexico

A recent poll reveals that 70% of Mexico City residents believe that a new anti-smoking law is just a way for authorities to shake more people down. They figure that everyone knows it will be impossible to enforce, so there is no other rationale for its passage. They also believe that new regulations about driver’s licenses will have the same effect.

I haven’t studied corruption in detail, and I wonder if anyone has done work on laws being passed almost entirely to facilitate bribery (there have, for example, been studies of how citizens accept corruption if they also benefit). It’s common for public officials to pass laws that enrich them, but this is more indirect. At the very least, it is a strong indicator of low regard for legislators, as people assume that a law ostensibly aimed at public health is simply corrupt.

This also leads me to wonder about how people feel about their local legislators in federal systems. This story is about the Mexico City legislature, not the national one. We see presidential approval ratings all the time, but not much about legislatures, and never anything on the local level. Many presidents (including Calderón) are very popular, but what about other elected officials?

On a side note, Transparency International’s 2007 corruption perception index has Mexico tied at 72 (along with Brazil, China, Peru and a few others) a drop of two spots since 2006.

h/t Héctor Tobar at La Plaza


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