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Politics of Mexico

The 1917 constitution of Mexico provides for a federal republic with powers separated into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Historically, the executive is the dominant branch, with power vested in the president, who promulgates and executes the laws of the Congress. The Congress has played an increasingly important role since 1997 when opposition parties first made major gains. The president also legislates by executive decree in certain economic and financial fields, using powers delegated from the Congress. The president is elected by universal adult suffrage for a 6-year term and may not hold office a second time. There is no vice president; in the event of the removal or death of the president, a provisional president is elected by the Congress.

The Congress is composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. Consecutive re-election is prohibited. Senators are elected to 6-year terms, and deputies serve 3-year terms. The Senate's 128 seats are filled by a mixture of direct-election and proportional representation. In the lower chamber, 300 deputies are directly elected to represent single-member districts, and 200 are selected by a modified form of proportional representation from five electoral regions. The 200 proportional representation seats were created to help smaller parties gain access to the Chamber.

The judiciary is divided into federal and state court systems, with federal courts having jurisdiction over most civil cases and those involving major felonies. Under the constitution, trial and sentencing must be completed within 12 months of arrest for crimes that would carry at least a 2-year sentence. In practice, the judicial system often does not meet this requirement. Trial is by judge, not jury, in most criminal cases. Defendants have a right to counsel, and public defenders are available. Other rights include defense against self-incrimination, the right to confront one's accusers, and the right to a public trial. Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.

On July 2, 2000, Vicente Fox Quesada of the opposition "Alliance for Change[?]" coalition, headed by the National Action Party (PAN), was elected president, in what are considered to have been the freest and fairest elections in Mexico's history. Fox began his 6-year term on December 1, 2000. His victory ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) 71-year hold on the presidency.

The Mexican Congress is a plural institution that is playing an increasingly important role in Mexico's democratic transition. No single party holds an absolute majority in either house of Congress.

Table of contents
1 Country name
2 Other data
3 Administrative divisions

Recent Elections

The July 2, 2000, elections marked the first time since the 1910-17 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government. Vicente Fox won the election with 43% of the vote, followed by PRI candidate Francisco Labastida[?] with 36%, and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the Democratic Revolution Party[?] (PRD) with 17%. Despite some isolated incidents of irregularities and problems, there was no evidence of systematic attempts to manipulate the elections or their results, and critics concluded that the irregularities that occurred did not alter the outcome of the presidential vote. Civic organizations fielded more than 80,000 trained electoral observers; foreigners--many from the United States--were invited to witness the process, and numerous independent "quick count" operations and exit polls validated the official vote tabulation.

Numerous electoral reforms implemented since 1989 aided in the opening of the Mexican political system, and opposition parties have made historic gains in elections at all levels. Many of the current electoral concerns have shifted from outright fraud to campaign fairness issues. During 1995-96 the political parties negotiated constitutional amendments to address these issues. Implementing legislation included major points of consensus that had been worked out with the opposition parties. The thrust of the new laws has public financing predominate over private contributions to political parties, tightens procedures for auditing the political parties, and strengthens the authority and independence of electoral institutions. The court system also was given greatly expanded authority to hear civil rights cases on electoral matters brought by individuals or groups. In short, the extensive reform efforts have "leveled the playing field" for the parties.

Even before the new electoral law was passed, opposition parties had obtained an increasing voice in Mexico's political system. A substantial number of candidates from opposition parties had won election to the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. As a result of the 2000 elections, the Congress is more diverse than ever. In the Chamber, 209 seats belong to the PRI, 207 to the PAN, 52 to the PRD, 16 for the Green Party, and the remaining 16 are split among four smaller parties and two independents. In the 128-seat Senate, the upper house of Congress, the PRI still holds the most seats at 60, but the PAN holds 46, the PRD 15, the Greens 5, and two smaller parties each have one seat. Senators serve 6 years in office and Deputies 3 years; neither can be elected to consecutive terms.

Although the PRI no longer controls the Presidency, it remains a significant force in Mexican politics. In gubernatorial contests since the 2000 presidential election, the PRI retained only one state house of five it had held previously. However, in state congressional and mayoral contests since July 2000, the PRI has fared better than the PAN.

Other Reforms

Constitutional and legal changes have been adopted in recent years to improve the performance and accountability of the Supreme Court and the Office of the Attorney General and the administration of federal courts. The Supreme Court, relieved of administrative duties for lower courts, was given responsibilities for judicial review of certain categories of law and legislation. A variety of laws also was passed in 1995-96 to help control organized crime.

Chiapas

An unresolved sociopolitical conflict exists in the southernmost state of Chiapas. In January 1994, Zapatistas in the state of Chiapas briefly took arms against the government, protesting alleged oppression and governmental indifference to poverty. After 12 days of fighting, a cease-fire was negotiated that remains in effect. Since 1994 sporadic clashes have continued to occur between armed civilian groups, usually over disputed land claims.

As a presidential candidate, Fox promised to renew dialogue with the EZLN and address unresolved problems in the state. Following his inauguration, he ordered many troops out of Chiapas, dismantled roadblocks, closed military bases, and submitted revised peace accords to Congress. In August 2001, the peace accords became law, after having been passed by Congress and ratified by more than half of the state legislatures.

Since August, numerous legal challenges to the accords have been filed, and the Fox Administration has on more than one occasion suggested that modifications may be necessary.

Country name

Conventional long form: United Mexican States
Conventional short form: Mexico
Local long form: Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Local short form: Mexico

Other data

Data code: MX
Government type :Federal republic
Capital: Mexico

Administrative divisions 31 states (estados, singular - estado) and 1 federal district* (distrito federal). See States of Mexico

Independence: 16 September 1810 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 16 September (1810)

Constitution: 5 February 1917

Legal system: judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory (but not enforced)

Executive branch

chief of state and head of government
President Vincente FOX (since 1 December 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Cabinet

Cabinet appointed by the president with consent of the Senate
Foreign minister: Luis Ernesto Derbez[?] since 2002
Minister of Defence: Clemente Vega García
Finance minister: Gil Díaz[?]

Elections

president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 2 July 2000(next to be held ????)
election results: Unknown

Legislative branch

Bicameral National Congress or Congreso de la Union consists of the Senate or Camara de Senadores (128 seats; half are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms, and half are allocated on the basis of each party's popular vote) and the Federal Chamber of Deputies or Camara Federal de Diputados (500 seats; 300 members are directly elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms; remaining 200 members are allocated on the basis of each party's popular vote, also for three-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 6 July 1997 for one-quarter of the seats; Chamber of Deputies - last held 6 July 1997 (the next legislative elections will coincide with the presidential election 2 July 2000)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRI 77, PAN 33, PRD 16, PVEM 1, PT 1; note - the distribution of seats as of October 1999 is as follows - PRI 75, PAN 31, PRD 16, PT 1, independents 5; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - PRI 39%, PAN 27%, PRD 26%; seats by party - PRI 239, PRD 125, PAN 121, PVEM 8, PT 7; note - the distribution of seats as of October 1999 is as follows - PRI 237, PRD 125, PAN 120, PT 7, PVEM 6, independents 5

Judicial branch

Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia, judges are appointed by the president with consent of the Senate

Political pressure groups and leaders: Confederation of Employers of the Mexican Republic or COPARMEX; Confederation of Industrial Chambers or CONCAMIN; Confederation of Mexican Workers or CTM; Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce or CONCANACO; Coordinator for Foreign Trade Business Organizations or COECE; Federation of Unions Providing Goods and Services or FESEBES; National Chamber of Transformation Industries or CANACINTRA; National Peasant Confederation or CNC; National Union of Workers or UNT; Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers or CROM; Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants or CROC; Revolutionary Workers Party or PRT; Roman Catholic Church; Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) (See Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico)

International organization participation: APEC, BCIE, BIS, Caricom (observer), CCC, CDB, EBRD, ECLAC, FAO, G-3, G-6, G-11, G-15, G-19, G-24, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, NAM (observer), NEA, OAS, OECD, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Juan José Bremer
chancery: 1911 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006
telephone: [1] (202) 728-1600
FAX: [1] (202) 728-1698
consulate(s) general: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Laredo (Texas), Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Nogales (Arizona), Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
consulate(s): Albuquerque, Brownsville (Texas), Calexico (California), Corpus Christi, Del Rio (Texas), Detroit, Douglas (Arizona), Eagle Pass (Texas), Fresno (California), McAllen (Texas), Midland (Texas), Orlando, Oxnard (California), Philadelphia, Portland (Oregon), St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Bernardino, San Jose, Santa Ana (California), Seattle, Tucson

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Tony Garza
embassy: Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, 06500 Mexico, Distrito Federal
mailing address: P. O. Box 3087, Laredo, TX 78044-3087
telephone: [52] (5) 209-9100
FAX: [52] (5) 208-3373, 511-9980
consulate(s) general: Ciudad Juarez, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana
consulate(s): Hermosillo, Matamoros, Merida, Nuevo Laredo, Nogales

Flag description: three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and red; the coat of arms (an eagle perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak) is centered in the white band


See also : Mexico, Political party in Mexico



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