Mexico’s federal system is largely modeled after the federal framework adopted by the United States of America. The central idea is that the federal government coexists with the state governments, which acting together comprise a balanced political structure. Each government has powers that are granted by a general constitution that establishes the rules for the distribution of power, jurisdiction and obligations. For a variety of reasons, discrepancies naturally arise between state and federal governments. When these disputes cannot be resolved through political dialogue, it is the task of the federal Supreme Court to resolve them.
Not all Mexican state governments are currently aligned with the same political party. In what could be considered an historic development, not even the political party leading the federal executive branch has a majority. Of the 32 Mexican states, which now include the newest state, Mexico City, the PRI controls 12 states, the PAN controls 10 states, MORENA controls seven states, and the PRD controls one state. Two states, Jalisco and Nuevo Leon, are independent and not controlled by any single political party. Recently, some Mexican state governors began a movement to confront the federal government and oppose certain policies adopted by President Lopez Obrador, particularly on measures which need to be taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This movement was led by Governor Enrique Alfaro of Jalisco, and it appeared such actions would lead to increased political tension.
For the sake of stability, in a recent meeting among the governors and the president, the governors made strong demands with respect to security and economic issues. In a show of good faith, the president stated that his government is not “sectarian”, which is to say partisan, and he conceded that several items have created tension throughout the federal-state relationship. He offered to restructure state debts, pay states their corresponding federal budget allocations without delay or negotiation, on a timely basis in accordance with the federal revenue sharing agreement, and even to amend the distribution formulas so the states and Mexico City receive more financial resources. Among the most relevant results of the meeting were those relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the president and governors reached a consensus regarding the details and operation of the pandemic signal light system, which has been a great concern for the states. The parties agreed that the devastation caused by the pandemic has put Mexico in an economic and health crisis. Fortunately for Mexico, it appears that Mexico’s federal and state leaders share a general desire to confront these issues in a coordinated manner in order to achieve the best results possible for the Mexican people.