Renee Van Vechten
California Politics: A Primer concisely explains how California’s history, political culture, rules, and institutions work together to shape its political landscape. Author Renee Van Vechten begins with a brief political history of the state, then walks through direct democracy, the legislature, executive branch, and court system, covers local government, and concludes with discussion of the state’s budget process, campaigns and elections, political engagement, and policy issues facing the state. The thoroughly revised Fourth Edition includes new maps and coverage of the political problems raised by persistent drought, prison reform, immigration, political disengagement among young Californians, new laws affecting voting and elections, and the controversy over mandatory vaccination of schoolchildren.
Mexico finally shed its authoritarian past with the victory of the PAN candidate Vicente Fox in the 2000 election. But the consolidation and growth of democracy in Mexico have been complicated by the institutional residues of the past. Steven Wuhs’s investigation of the PAN and PRD begins by depicting how the PRI functioned and then, in successive chapters, compares how PAN and PRD leaders reacted to the PRI’s institutions in choosing rules for selecting candidates to run for office, organizing their party’s bureaucracy, and linking to groups in civil society. What he shows is that “savage democracy has undermined the nomination of electable candidates, fostered intense intraparty factions and fights, and interfered with the development of party organizations capable of mounting effective campaigns.”