Political Thermometer

November 11, 2013
Political Thermometer

Mexico is currently undergoing changes in various areas: education, telecommunications, energy and public finance. The proposals for structural reforms also encompass a political reform, which is currently underway. The backbone of the political changes that have occurred, created almost twenty years ago, was the electoral reform that created the Federal Electoral Institute (Instituto Federal Electoral or IFE), an independent government agency comprised of citizens appointed by Mexico's Congress. The IFE has been largely responsible for bringing democracy to the country, and it has brought significant credibility and impartiality to the electoral process.The 31 states of the Republic have created their own electoral institutes to organize and regulate state elections. These institutes have been criticized for responding to public interests and for being subordinate to state governors. As a result of the Pact for Mexico, a proposal to create one single National Elections Institute (Instituto Nacional de Elecciones or INE) has been submitted, which would replace IFE and the state institutes.While the proposal was agreed to in the Pact for Mexico, it received strong opposition in Congress. The topic generated heated debate and caused conflict between legislators from the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional or PAN) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática or PRD). Opposition to the INE was led by the local governments of the Federal District and the State of Mexico, the two most important states from an electoral point of view given the large number of voters in such political subdivisions. The Federal District is governed by the PRD, while the State of Mexico is governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional or PRI).This issue has increased the political temperature, given that a majority of governors oppose the creation of the INE. Their opposition is based on the fact that they believe this goes against the principles of Mexican federalism and state sovereignty because local electoral matters are subject to the jurisdiction of each state.Meanwhile, 17 state legislatures have expressed their opposition to such measure, and it is calculated that only eight state legislatures would approve the proposed new INE. The creation of the INE would require a constitutional reform approved by two-thirds of Mexico's Federal Congress and (17) of the state legislatures. Thus, the future of the new INE is uncertain and, in the meantime, the only sure thing is that the political temperature will continue to rise.

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