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Similar but different. Institutions of Mexican Government. Linkage Institutions. Mexico’s political parties, interest groups, and media all work to link Mexican citizens to their government

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Similar but different

Similar but different

Institutions of Mexican Government

Linkage institutions
Linkage Institutions

  • Mexico’s political parties, interest groups, and media all work to 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 parties
Political Parties

  • Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI)

  • National Action Party (PAN)

  • Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD)


  • In power from 1920-2000

  • Founded by coalition of elites led by President Calles

  • Originally elites agreed to trade favors and pass around power from one cacique to another (Sexenio)

  • Corporatist structure – interest groups woven into the structure of the party. Party has ultimate authority, but other voices heard by bringing interest groups under the umbrella of the party. Structure is not democratic, but allows for more input into government than other types of authoritarianism. Particularly since Cardenas peasant and labor organizations have been represented in the party and hold positions of responsibility

  • Patron-client system – party traditionally gets its support from rural areas where patron-client system is still in control. Patron-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

  • Supporters are more rural, less educated and older

Pan right of center
PAN (Right of Center)

  • Founded in 1939

  • Represents business interests opposed to centralization and anti-clericalism

  • PAN support strongest in the north

  • PAN generally considered PRI’s opposition to the Right

  • PAN candidate Vicente Fox won 2000 presidential election, Felipe Calderon won 2006 election

  • Platform

    • Regional autonomy

    • Less government intervention in the economy

    • Clean & fair elections

    • Good rapport with Catholic Church

    • Support for private and religious education

  • Supporters are urban, middle class, wealthy

  • Prd left of center
    PRD (Left of Center)

    • PRD considered PRI’s opposition to the Left

    • Presidential 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 populism

      • In 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 won

  • PRD 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 (a more socialist party)

  • Andres 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)

  • Supporters are working class, younger, better educated, active

  • Election of 2006
    Election of 2006

    • Andrés Manuel López Obradorwas the presidential candidate

    • After the general election of July 2, and after a recount of only 9.09% of all the ballot tally sheets, the Federal Electoral Institute recorded the vote results in favor of Felipe Calderón (PAN party) by a margin of 0.58 percent (Bush/Gore was .0092%)

    • PRD claims that there was election fraudwhich were rejected by the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF) and certified Calderón as the winner

    • The PRD called for demonstrations and set up camps in the capital's main square blocking one of its main avenues (Paseo de la Reforma) to ask for a recount of all votes.

    • The camps were later dismantled and Obrador was declared "Legitimate President" by his followers; he does not recognize the legitimacy of Calderón.


    • Citizens in Mexico directly elect the president, Chamber of Deputy Representatives, and Senators as well as most local & state officials

    • Elections are generally competitive, specifically in urban areas

    • Members of congress elected through dual system of “first-past-the-post” and proportional representation

      • Proportional representation was increased in a major reform law in 1986, a change that gave power to political parties that challenged PRI control

  • Each of Mexico’s 31 states elects three senators, 2 are determined by majority vote, the other is determined by whichever party receives the second highest number of votes

  • 32 senate seats are determined nationally through a system of proportional representation that divides the seats according to the number of votes cast for each party (128 Senate seats in total)

  • In the Chamber of Deputies, 300 seats are determined by plurality within single-member districts, and 200 are chosen by proportional representation

  • Voter profiles
    Voter Profiles

    • PRI – small town or rural, less educated, older, poorer

    • PAN – 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 2000
    Election of 2000

    • PAN/PRD 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 lower house

    • PRI captured 209 deputy seats in the lower house

    • PAN won 46 senate seats; PRI won 60 senate seats

    • New, competitive election system has encouraged coalitions to form to the right & left of the PRI

    • Split in votes has encourage gridlock, phenomenon unknown to Mexico under the old PRI-controlled governments

    Interest groups popular movements
    Interest Groups & Popular Movements

    • Corporatist structure allowed for accommodation of interest group (a system where government is dominated by representative groups within society

    • Business Interests – networked with political leaders to protect the growth of commerce, finance, industry, and agriculture

    • Labor – accommodated within system, wage levels for union workers increased from 1940-1982, until economic crisis of lowering oil prices caused wages to drop. Power of union bosses has decreased as unions weaken and members become more independent

    • Rural/Peasant Organizations – encouraged under PRI through the ejido system that granted land from the government to these organizations. Since 1980s groups have demanded greater independence from the government, and supported movements for better prices for crops, and access to markets and credit. Joined with other groups to promote better education, health services, and environmental practices

    • Urban/Popular Movements – concerned about social welfare spending, city services, neighborhood improvement, economic development, feminism, and professional identity. As groups become more independent and grow in strength the government and political system must negotiate with them, and in doing so transform the political culture


    • Part of the patron-client system under the PRI, with rewards and favors doled out in return for political support

    • Have become more independent as PRI-political structure has been reorganized

    • Many Mexicans have access to international newspapers, magazines, CNN and the BBC

      • “Toallagate” Scandal – overpriced towels at President Fox’s mansion

    Government institutions
    Government Institutions

    • Mexico is a federal republic, though state and local governments have little independent power and few resources

    • Executive branch has held majority of the power historically

    • Legislative & Judicial branch followed the executive’s lead, rubber-stamping most presidential decisions

    • Mexico has traditionally been an authoritarian and corporatist regime

    Executive branch
    Executive Branch

    • Center of policy-making

    • Sexenio: non-renewable six-year term (Under PRI similar to dictator)

      • Selected successor

      • Appointed officials to all positions of power in the government

      • Named PRI candidates for other public offices

      • A lot of turnover at the in the executive branch

  • Until mid-1970s Mexican presidents were above criticism and people revered them as symbols of national progress and well-being

    • Managed huge patronage system-president at top of hierarchy

    • Control over “rubber-stamp” Congress

  • President Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) –relinquished number of traditional powers of the president, including naming the PRI candidate for the 2000 election

  • President Fox inherited the presidency in a time of transition

    • President still viewed as all powerful, but blamed for shortcomings

    • Harder for Fox to accomplish political goals without strong party support in the post-PRI Congress

  • Executive branch1
    Executive Branch

    • Powers of President

      • Initiate legislation

      • In charge of foreign policy

      • Create government agencies

      • Issues decrees and regulations with force of law

      • (Similarities to US) (trends?)


    • About 1.5 million people employed by federal government (Most in Mexico City)

    • High & Middle level officials have a good deal of power

      • Civil servants work for patrons more than the state-the staff will follow minister when gets a new job

    • Under PRI corruption and bribes quite common amongst officials in the bureaucracy

    • Parastatal Sector – semiautonomous government agencies that often produce goods & services

      • PEMEX (state owned petroleum company)

      • After 1980’s oil bust reforms cut the number of para-statals, and many are now privately owned

      • President Fox tried unsuccessfully to privatize PEMEX


    • Bicameral

      • Chamber of Deputies (500-member)

        • 300 deputies from single-member districts (plurality)

        • 200 deputies chosen by proportional representation

    • Senate (128-member)

      • 3 senators from each of the 31 states & the federal district(96)

      • Remaining 32 selected by proportional representation

  • All legislators directly elected-members can’t serve consecutive terms

  • Election held every three years

  • Until 1980s legislature remained under strict control of the president

  • PRI’s lost hold on legislature earlier than it did on the presidency

  • Lost majority in the Chamber of Deputies in 1997

  • Women in both houses has risen significantly since 1996 election law required parties to sponsor female candidates

    • Parties must run at least 30% female candidates for proportional representation and single-member district elections

    • 113 of 500 deputies in Chamber are female

    • 20 of 128 Senators are also female

  • Local governments
    Local governments

    • 31 states and federal district

      • Depend on federal government for funding

      • Patronage very important

      • The Breakdown of the PRI has hurt these networks

      • Attempts to reform the system have been thwarted by government agencies and the governors who retain control of the money when it is given to the states


    • Strong judicial branch necessary for a country to operate on the “Rule of Law”

    • Mexico does not have an independent judiciary or judicial review system

    • Most laws are federal, limiting the authority of state courts

    • Much more dependent on written law than precedence

    • Supreme Court

      • On paper has judicial review, but it never overrules important government policy or actions

      • Historically has been controlled by the executive branch

      • Judges appointed for life, but in practice resigned at the beginning of each sexenio

      • President 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

      • Fox tried to work for an independent judiciary but seems to have come up short on this endeavor


    • Dominated Mexican political life into the early 20th century

    • PRI dramatically cutback the political power of generals (even former military generals who became presidents acted to separate the military from politics)

      • Calles and Cardenas de-politicized the military

      • Continually moved generals to different regions of the country not allowing them to develop a regional base of power

      • Presidents traded favors with military officers to allow them economic power, if not political power

  • Government control of the military one of PRI’s most important accomplishments

  • Strong ties between military officers and drug barons

    • Military heavily involved in drug-enforcement

    • Patron-client system of favors and loyalty has led some military officers to accept money from drug lords in return for allegiance and security

    • General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo (Head of anti-drug task force) arrested in 1997 on accusations of protecting a drug lord

  • Policies issues
    Policies & Issues

    • Economy

      • “Mexican Miracle”

        • 1940-1960 economy grew more than 6% per year

        • Industrial production up nearly 9% per year during 1960s

        • Agricultural share of production down: 25% to 11%

        • Manufacturing share of production up: 25% to 34%

    • Problems

      • Growing gap between rich & poor

      • Rapid/Unplanned Urbanization

    Economics ii
    Economics II

    • Debt Crisis

      • Mexican government borrowed heavily in order to industrialize

      • Most of the economic growth based on oil economy

      • Oil plummet in 1982, caused Mexican economy to plummet as well

      • 1987, Mexico over $107 billion in debt, debt represented 70% of GNP

    Economics iii
    Economics III

    • Reform

      • Begun by President Miguel de la Madrid in 1982, continued by presidents Salinas & Zedillo (the tecnicos)

    • Sharp cuts in Government Spending – according to agreements with the IMF, World Bank, and the U.S. Mexico greatly reduced government spending by eliminating public enterprises, cutting government subsidies, and cutting hundreds of thousands of public jobs

    • Debt Reduction – with assistance from U.S. the Mexican government reached agreement to reduce interest rates on loans and allow for more lenient repayment plans. Mexico still pays on average about $10 billion a year on loan interests

    • Privatization – many government industries were privatized, in 1990 President Salinas returned the banks to the private sector. Special laws like duty-free importing of components and cheap labor led foreign companies to invest in Mexican manufacturing plants

      • Between 2001 and 2003 Mexico economy suffered from the post-September 11 U.S. recession. In 2004, the economy grew by 4.1% but an estimated 40% of the Mexican population still lived below the poverty line

    Foreign policy
    Foreign Policy

    • GATT/WTO–in 1986 Mexico joined the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the precursor to the World Trade Organization

    • NAFTA – economics still dominates even in terms of foreign policy

      • Has brought more transparency to Mexican politics and economics

    • Immigration & Drug Trafficking– America still the key focus for Mexican foreign policy

    • Communication Technology has made Mexico’s problems more global (Zapatista Movement)

    Issues of democracy
    Issues of Democracy

    • Election Reform

      • CFE (Federal Election Reform) – created as an independent regulatory body to safeguard honest and accurate election results

      • Campaign Finance Restriction – laws that limit campaign contributions

      • International Watch Teams – so Mexico could convince other countries that elections are fair and competitive

      • Election monitoring – done by opposition party members