This paper exploits Mexican administrative data on all strike threats between 1991–2012, a period of political institutional change. This paper asks: Are strike threats partially caused by the political cycle? We develop a political economy model of union influence and find that when electoral institutions become more democratic, and political parties can count to a lesser extent on a guaranteed support base, the importance of relying in the unions to win elections will increase. We validate these findings using municipal electoral data, where we employ a sharp regression discontinuity approach, and find a causal effect from close elections of right- and left-wing mayors on strike threats two years after an election. Narrow electoral victories of the right-wing (left-) party increase the number of strike threats by 1.056 (1.456) per 10,000 of the municipal population two years after the election. This finding is robust to alternate specifications. We suggest that threats may be misused for campaigning in upcoming elections. To test this hypothesis a differences-in-differences model is employed to estimate changes in electoral turnout in narrow win municipalities. We find that electoral turnout is stimulated by strike threats, in the context of tight electoral rules surrounding campaigning, these findings may be interpreted confirmation of illegal campaigning.

Figure 3: Impact of PAN win on Strike Petitions rate


Rufrancos and Sas 2019. “Institutions in the Fast Lane? Strike Petitions and the Electoral Cycle in Mexico” University of Stirling, Mimeo.

author = {Hector Rufrancos and Willem Sas},
institution = {University of Stirling},
title = {Institutions in the Fast Lane? Strike Petitions and the Electoral Cycle in Mexico},
year = {2019}}

  • PhD Version - This paper originates in my PhD: What do Mexican Unions do?
  • Earlier versions of this paper circulated under the title (You Gotta) Strike if the Right (Is the Party!): Strike Petitions and the Electoral cycle