About Sandra Ley

Associate Professor Political Studies Division Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)-Mexico City


I am associate professor in the Political Studies Division at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City.

My research analyzes the impact of criminal violence on the exercise of democratic citizenship in Latin America, with central emphasis on Mexico.

My work examines how variations in the level of criminal violence condition the activation of civil society networks, citizen participation, and electoral accountability. I find that even as victims take to the streets to demand peace and justice, violence threatens the electorate as a whole and reduces incentives to take part in elections. Moreover, electoral accountability amid violence requires voters to be able to assign responsibility for crime. Given such a difficult task, voters hold politicians accountable for insecurity in the narrow circumstances of organized crime-related violence and partisan alignment across levels of government .

My study draws on a rich array of sources. I created an original post-electoral survey, as well as a novel newspaper databank of protests against crime in Mexico during the 2006–2012 period. In collaboration with Guillermo Trejo, I have also developed a unique dataset on criminal violence in Mexico. My statistical evidence is complemented with participant observation in marches for peace and qualitative in-depth interviews with victims and nonvictims of crime in six Mexican cities.

Together with Guillermo Trejo, I am the coauthor of the book Votes, Drugs, and Violence. The Political Logic of Criminal Wars in Mexico (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

My individual and co-authored work has been published in the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Politics & Society, Latin American Politics and Society, Latin American Research Review, among other international journals