This article examines the implications of the multi-scalar politics of Mexican anti-poverty policy for the long-term process of democratization. The federal anti-poverty policy, Progresa/Oportunidades, was designed to eliminate traditional clientelistic practices. While more obvious practices of pork-barrel politics have been eliminated in poverty alleviation programs, continued practices of top-down processes of program design and implementation strategies have resulted in the emergence of semi-clientelism. Argued in this paper is that municipal and state political actors have responded to these federal policies in ways that may or may not promote deeper levels of democracy, and which have led to the reconstitution of semi-clientelism. The paper draws upon recent revisionist approaches to political clientelism, and introduces a multi-scalar approach borrowed from political geography. Based on this theoretical approach, the article examines the role of state and municipal authorities in the delivery of federal anti-poverty benefits within the Oportunidades conditional cash transfer program.
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