Presentation Outline II. Political Institutions • Presidential system/separation of powers • The President • The Legislative Branch • Recruitment of elites • The Judicial Branch • The Party System • The Electoral System
II. a) presidential system/separation of powers Mexico has three completely separate branches of government. Unlike Britain’s parliamentary system, Mexico’s legislative and executive branches are separately elected and work independently of one another. However, in order to pass legislation both the executive and legislative branches need to come to an agreement. When one political party controls both legislative houses and the presidency, as PRI did for much of the twentieth century, it is easy to pass legislation. But in a competitive system where one party may control the presidency, and another the legislative branch, legislative deadlock may occur.
The main reason for the presidential system is to ensure a system of checks and balances and to prevent corruption and a monopolization of power
Divided Government President Senate defeats president’s bill. Proposes legislation Senate Chamber of Deputies Chamber blocks president’s legislative agenda
II. b) The President • The Mexican president is both head of government and head of state • Is elected for one 6 year term without the possibility of re-election • Appoints Cabinet secretaries • Nominates supreme court judges • Is commander in chief of the armed forces • Has decree powers • Can veto legislation
Recent Mexican Presidents *Until 1999 the President also had the power to choose or handpick his successor. Since 1999 Political Parties run primaries. The party members vote for the party leader. 1988-1994 1994-2000 2000-2006 2006-2012 2012-2018 Carlos Salinas PRI Ernesto Zedillo PRI Vicente Fox PAN Felipe Calderon PAN Enrique Nieto PRI
II. c) The Legislative Branch • Mexico legislative branch is bicameral. • Elected Chamber of Deputies (Lower House) based on representation by population • Elected Senate (Upper House) based on regional representation
Mexican Chamber of Deputies • elected to one 3 year term (no re-election • Creates and amends legislation • Can overturn a presidential veto with a supermajority (66%+) • Can impeach the president with a supermajority (66%+) • 500 members total • 300 elected by SMD • 200 elected by PR • Regardless of popular vote totals, no party may have more than 300/500 seats
The Senate • Elected to one 6 year term (no re-election • Creates and amends legislation • Can overturn a presidential veto with a supermajority (66%+) • Can impeach the president with a supermajority (66%+) • Confirms presidential appointments to the Cabinet and Supreme Court • Can remove a governor or dissolve a state legislature with a supermajority vote (66%+) • 128 members • 4 Senators per state • Half elected using SMD • Half elected using PR
II. d) Recruitment of elites • PRI leaders have tended to rise through camarillas (support networks) or “old boys” networks, including top Mexican universities and US ivy league grad schools such as Harvard and Yale • Traditionally, most PRI leaders were technocrats with training in engineering, economic, or political science • The Capitalinos, residents of Mexico City have also tended to dominate the elite party positions and Cabinet posts • The PAN party is less institutionalized in Mexico and are essentially still outsiders as far as networking is concerned. Many top PAN leaders such as Vicente Fox tend to have a private sector and business background
II. e) The Judicial Branch Mexico uses a legal code based on Roman Law. The judicial branch is independent of the legislative and executive branches. • 2008 Legal Reform • The Supreme Court • Rule of law
2008 legal reforms • The Mexican government passed a legal reform act which improved due process for defendants in criminal trials. • Now defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty by the state. • Prior to 2008 defendants had to prove innocence; this resulted in the unjust conviction and imprisonment of many innocent people
The Mexican Supreme Court • Highest federal court in Mexico • Consists of 11 judges who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate • Judges are limited to one 15 year term • Has the authority to declare government laws and actions unconstitutional. This is known as judicial review • In order for the court to declare an act unconstitutional a vote of at least 8/11 supreme court judges is required • Judicial review has rarely been used against the wishes of the Mexican President
Rule of law • Mexico is moving towards rule of law but has a long way to go to catch up to liberal democracies in this aspect.
II. f) The Party System • From 1929- the mid-1990s Mexico essentially had a one-party dominant state, even though a multi-party system did exist and was provided for constitutionally • The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) dominated this period • Since the mid-1990s a competitive multi-party system has emerged. • Parties now have clear ideologies and their own support bases.
Alignment of Main Mexican Political Parties on the Political Spectrum National Action Party Party of the Democratic Revolution Institutional Revolutionary Party Mexican Green Party Left Centre Right
II. g) The Electoral System • Direct elections for the Chamber of Deputies, Senate, and Presidency • Mexico uses a mixed PR and SMD system for electing members to the Chamber of Deputies and Senate • Presidents are limited to one six year term and are elected using a plurality system, with no majority or second round run-off needed.
1993 Electoral Reform law • Doubled the Size of the Senate • Guarantee that opposition parties would control at least one-third of the Senate seats • Guarantee that no political party could have more than 300 out of 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies * Without a supermajority (2/3 of the seats) no political party can push through its agenda without the support of opposition parties.
Discussion Questions • Compare and contrast the Mexican President with the British Prime Minister in terms of their relationship with the electorate and their respective legislatures. • Why do you think Mexico instituted the no re-election law for its political office holders? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this unique law? • Which other political party system that we have studied most closely represents Mexico’s system under PRI rule, and today?