Although Mexico was once recognized for the stability of its strongly centralist one-party political system, events occurring since the mid-1980s have made it increasingly difficult for both the government and the ruling party to sustain legitimacy and credibility. This book assesses the impact of decentralization on Mexico's intergovernmental relations and examines the constraints upon the devolution of political power from the center to the lower levels of government. It also discusses the distribution of power and authority to governments of opposition parties within the context of a more open political space.Victoria Rodr�ez uncovers a new paradox in the Mexican political system: retaining power by giving it away. She argues that from the beginning of the de la Madrid presidency (1982?1988) to the end of the Carlos Salinas de Gortari administration (1988?1994), the Mexican government embarked upon a major effort of political and administrative decentralization as a means to increase its hold on power?to centralize by decentralizing. However, since the beginning of the presidency of Ernesto Zedillo (1994?2000), it has become increasingly clear that the survival of the ruling party and, indeed, the viability of his own government require a genuine, de facto reduction of centralism. For Zedillo and future political administrations, decentralization in some guise will have to be a key ingredient of any attempt at modernization in contemporary Mexico.