This paper proposes to contribute to our understanding of the process of democratic consolidation in Mexico. It argues that political cultural change is a necessary component of consolidation and takes the core of political culture as "symbolic narratives" the predominant stories about the nation that establish the terms of political competition. Democratic consolidation thus includes the liberalization of symbolic narratives that circumscribe the power of the state. Mexican symbolic narratives since independence, in contrast, have reserved a preponderant role for the state as an agent of positive social transformation. Considering this political cultural heritage illuminates the illiberal tendencies in Mexican democracy today, and makes it clear that democratic consolidation faces higher hurdles than often assumed.
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