Mexican Political Institutions. Government Institutions ► ► Mexico is a federal republic, though state and local governments have little independent power

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  • Mexican Political Institutions

  • Government InstitutionsMexico is a federal republic, though state and local governments have little independent power and few resourcesExecutive branch has held majority of the power historicallyLegislative & Judicial branch have traditionally followed the executives lead, rubber-stamping most presidential decisions

  • Executive BranchCenter of policy-makingSexenio: non-renewable six-year term (Under PRI similar to dictator)Presidents powers under PRI system:Selected successorAppointed officials to all positions of power in the governmentNamed PRI candidates for other public officesUntil mid-1970s Mexican presidents were above criticism and people revered them as symbols of national progress and well-beingManaged huge patronage system (camarillas)Control over rubber-stamp Congress

  • Changes in the Executive BranchPresident Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) relinquished a number of informal powers, including naming the PRI candidate for the 2000 electionPresident Fox won the presidency in a time of transitionPresident still viewed as all powerful, but blamed for shortcomingsHarder for Fox to accomplish political goals without strong party support in the post-PRI Congress

  • BureaucracyAbout 1.5 million people employed by federal government (Most in Mexico City)High & middle level officials have a good deal of powerUnder PRI, corruption and bribes quite common amongst officials in the bureaucracyParastatal Sector companies owned or controlled by the statePEMEX (state-owned petroleum company)After 1980s oil bust, reforms cut the number of parastatals, and many are now privately ownedPresident Fox tried unsuccessfully to privatize PEMEX

  • LegislatureBicameralChamber of Deputies (500 members)300 deputies from single-member districts (plurality)200 deputies chosen by proportional representationSenate (128 members)3 senators from each of the 31 states & the federal district (96)Remaining 32 selected by proportional representationAll legislators directly electedUntil 1980s legislature remained under strict control of the president

  • Womens Role in the LegislatureWomen in both houses has risen significantly since 1996 election law required parties to sponsor female candidatesParties must run at least 30% female candidates for proportional representation and single-member district elections113 of 500 deputies in Chamber are female20 of 128 Senators are also female

  • JudiciaryMexico does not have an independent judiciary or judicial review systemMost laws are federal, limiting the authority of state courtsHistorically has been controlled by the executive branch

  • Supreme CourtOn paper has judicial review, but it never overrules important government policy or actionsJudges appointed for life, but in practice resigned at the beginning of each sexenioPresident Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) attempted to strengthen courts by emphasizing the rule of law, he refused to interfere with court judgments and President Fox continued this policy

  • MilitaryDominated Mexican political life into the early 20th centuryPRI dramatically cut back the political power of generalsStrong ties between military officers and drug baronsMilitary heavily involved in drug-enforcementPatron-client system of favors and loyalty has led some military officers to accept money from drug lords in return for allegiance and security

  • Linkage InstitutionsPolitical parties, interest groups, and media all link Mexican citizens to their government

    During the PRI era all of this took place under the authority of the PRI party so a true civil society did not exist

    As democratization began and civil society began to develop, these structures were already in place, so activating democracy was easier than it would have been otherwise

  • Political PartiesInstitutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)

    National Action Party (PAN)

    Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD)

  • PRIIn power from 1929-2000Founded by coalition of elites led by President CallesOriginally, elites agreed to trade favors and pass around power between one another (Sexenio)

  • Structure of the PRICorporatist structure interest groups woven into the structure of the partyParty has ultimate authority, but other voices heard by bringing interest groups under the umbrella of the partyStructure was not democratic, but allowed for more input into government than other types of authoritarianismParticularly since Cardenas, peasant and labor organizations have been represented in the party and hold positions of responsibility

  • Structure of the PRIPatron-client system party traditionally gets its support from rural areas where patron-client system is still in controlPatron-client system allowed the PRI to remain in control of Mexicans as long as majority of population was rural-based, this began to change in the late 1980s

  • PAN (Right of Center)Founded in 1939Represents business interests opposed to centralization and anti-clericalismPAN support strongest in the northPAN generally considered PRIs opposition on the RightPAN candidate Vicente Fox won 2000 presidential election, Felipe Calderon won 2006 electionPlatform:Regional autonomyLess government intervention in the economyClean & fair electionsGood rapport with Catholic ChurchSupport for private and religious education

  • PRD (Left of Center)PRD considered PRIs opposition on the LeftPRD has been plagued by poor organization, lack of charismatic leadership, and most importantly the lack of an economic alternative to the market-oriented policies of the PRI & PAN

  • Elections and the PRDPresidential candidate in 1988 & 1994 was Cuahtemoc Cardenas (son of Lazaro Cardenas)He was ejected from the PRI for demanding reform that emphasized social justice and populismIn 1988 Cardenas won 31.1% of the official vote, and PRD captured 139 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (500 total)Many believe had it been an honest election Cardenas would have wonAndres Lopez Obrador, former mayor of Mexico City, was the PRD candidate for president in the 2006 election. He lost by a slim margin to Calderon (PAN) and bitterly contested the election results.

  • Voter ProfilesPRI small town or rural, less educated, older, poorerPAN from the north, middle-class professional or business, urban, better educated (at least high school, some college), religious (or those less strict regarding separation of church & state)PRD younger, politically active, from the central states, some education, small town or urban

  • Election of 2000PAN candidate Vicente Fox won presidency (43% of the vote compared to 36% garnered for PRI candidate Francisco Labastida)PAN captured 208 of 500 deputies in the lower house; PRI captured 209 deputy seatsPAN won 46 senate seats; PRI won 60 senate seatsNew, competitive election system has encouraged coalitions to form to the right & left of the PRISplit in votes has encouraged gridlock, phenomenon unknown to Mexico under the old PRI-controlled governmentsElection of 2006 closely contested election, won by PAN candidate Felipe Calderon by narrow margin over PRD candidate Andres Lopez Obrador

  • Interest Groups & Popular MovementsCorporatist structure allowed for accommodation of interest groupsBusiness InterestsLaborRural/Peasant Organizations encouraged under PRI through the ejido system that granted land from the government to these organizationsUrban/Popular Movements

  • MediaPart of the patron-client system under the PRI, with rewards and favors handed out in return for political supportHave become more independent as PRI-political structure has been reorganizedMany Mexicans have access to international newspapers, magazines, CNN and the BBC


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