Wednesday June 20 2018

Posted by Tomas on December 18, 2017
  • The Mexican Presidential Election of 2018
    The Mexican Presidential Election of 2018
  • The major political parties in Mexico, by no means all of the political players.
    The major political parties in Mexico, by no means all of the political players.
  • José Antonio Meade, Mexico’s former finance secretary is a candidate for the PRI
    José Antonio Meade, Mexico’s former finance secretary is a candidate for the PRI
  • Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez, an indigenous woman shows the document after she registered to run as an independent candidate
    Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez, an indigenous woman shows the document after she registered to run as an independent candidate
  • Andrés Manuel López Obrador a left leaning socialist has lost two presidential elections by small margins and is the current front runner for 2018
    Andrés Manuel López Obrador a left leaning socialist has lost two presidential elections by small margins and is the current front runner for 2018
  • Ricardo Anaya Cortés is the presumptive candidate for the PAN & PRD alliance
    Ricardo Anaya Cortés is the presumptive candidate for the PAN & PRD alliance
  • Margarita Zavala de Calderón, wife of former president Felipe Calderón left the PAN to run as an independent
    Margarita Zavala de Calderón, wife of former president Felipe Calderón left the PAN to run as an independent
  • Jaime Heliodoro Rodríguez Calderón (not related) won the governorship of Nuevo León in 2015 and left the PRI to run as an independent
    Jaime Heliodoro Rodríguez Calderón (not related) won the governorship of Nuevo León in 2015 and left the PRI to run as an independent

This year, 2018 is an election year in Mexico in which the country will choose a new president for a six-year term. On the Federal level, the country will also choose 64 senators and all 500 Deputies. The presidency, along with many other political positions in Mexico has a one-term limit. This article will cover the major political parties in Mexico, the presidential electoral process and the involvement of the Institute National Electoral or INE in the process for both candidates and voters.

Political Parties in Mexico

Mexico has more viable political parties than its northern neighbor and in the last several years the country has seen an explosion of new political entities. To maintain the status of a party in local or national venues the party must receive at least 2% of the vote at either level. Since there are so many parties in contention several parties have formed negotiated coalitions for 2018 based on the similarity of their platforms. 

Here is a list of the major parties contending for the vote in 2018: 

  • National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) – a right of center party. The party of the two previous presidents Fox and Calderon on the first to break the PRI hold on the presidency.
  • Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) – the dominating party and the only political party in Mexico for a run of almost 6 decades that ended in 2000. Current holder of the presidency under Enrique Peña Nieto
  • Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) – a left of center party. 
  • Labor Party (Partido del Trabajo, PT) – a laborist political party formed in 1990. It is often allied with the PRD for electoral purposes.
  • Green Party of Mexico (Partido Verde Ecologista de México, PVEM) – a minor party with an environmental platform. This party allied with the PAN to elect the first non-PRI president in almost seven decades Vincente Fox. Since then it has mostly allied with the PRI.
  • Citizens' Movement (Movimiento Ciudadano, MC: formerly known as Convergencia and Convergencia por la Democracia) – a social democratic party, formed in 1997. Also known as the "Orange Party"
  • New Alliance (Nueva Alianza, PANAL) – originally created by academics of the Autonomous Technical Institute of Mexico and members of the National Educational Workers Union, the largest union in Latin America. It was established on July 14, 2005.
  • National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional, MORENA) – a left-wing nationalist party, formed in 2011, and proclaimed as a national party in 2014. The party of Andrés Manuel López Obrador
  • Social Encounter Party (Partido Encuentro Social, PES) – a right-wing and socially conservative party, formed in 2006, and proclaimed as a national party in 2014. 

There are two important political positions in Mexico, the first obviously being the presidency, the other is Jefe de Gobierno de la Ciudad de México or what we might know as Mayor of Mexico City (CDMX Ciudad Mexico City). The later position as head of the largest city in the world with a population of more than 8.9 million is often seen as a springboard to the next presidential election. Thus in coalitions, the majority party of a pairing offers the presidential candidate and the minority party is given the shot at the mayoral position. There are 31 states in Mexico and Mexico City, of which Baja California (population 3.1 million) hosts the third largest city Tijuana, and Baja California Sur the least populated state at 637 thousand.

The Presidential Electoral Process in Mexico

The electoral process in Mexico is far more regulated than that of the United States in relation to the time frame. This is intended to keep politicians working, rather than campaigning, and keeps citizens from being inundated with political propaganda. The electoral process under a multi-party system is a new and evolving process. The entire political process and voter registration are overseen by Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE). Elections in Mexico are held on Sundays so that more citizens have access to the polls.

We began seeing party political commercials early in 2017, purporting the political views of the party and usually familiarizing the public with the face of the head of that party, likely to become the party's presidential candidate. 

All media campaigning is allocated and monitored by INE. Each qualifying party received public money for their campaigns and radio and TV time is allocated to each party so that even minority parties can have access to major media. Each party can also raise money from private donations but total campaign expenditures are capped by law. The candidates alternative comes in the form of general party platform commercials.  

  • August 5, 2017, The process officially began when the political parties were required to present their plans on how their candidates would be selected. The primary process is new to the country and parties decide whether their candidates will be chosen by a public vote or by a closed party caucus. Voters in Mexico do not declare a political affiliation when registering and the PRD has expressed concern that voters could 'sabotage' competing parties by crossing over and voting for a weaker candidate, so their candidate would win the general election. 
  • December 14, 2017, The political primary process began when the party and independent candidates present the required number of signatures and announce their candidacy for the office of president. 
  • January 15 - 30, 2018 Each party must register its electoral platform with INE’s General Counsel.
  • February 11, 2018, Ends the primary process for all presidential candidates. Party caucuses or voting may choose each party's nominee. February 11 will be an election day in Baja California Sur. All election weekends are 'dry' banning the sale of alcohol. 
  • February 12-March 29, 2018, INE validates the status of all presidential candidates including signatures and constitutional qualifications. This is a 'quiet period' for the political campaigns when only party platform publicity will be seen. 
  • March 30 - June 27, 2018 The campaign for the presidency is on. TV, radio and the internet will be alight with campaign ads. 
  • June 28 - July 1, 2018, No candidate may campaign. Campaign materials must not be published and results of polls and surveys may not be disseminated.
  • July 1, 2018, Election day in Mexico. No election polls or results may be announced before 8 PM Central Standard time. Like its northern neighbors, election results are tabulated fairly quickly and results usually become evident by July 2. 
  • August 31, 2018, The final date for INE to declare the validity of the election in favor of the candidate who obtained the largest number of the votes. (Things only went this far in 2016)
  • September 1, 2018, The new Mexican Congress begins work.
  • September 6, 2018, Deadline for the Superior Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Branch to proceed with the final count for the presidential election, declare the validity of the results and grant the winning candidate the presidency. The Electoral Tribunal is in charge of resolving any challenges to the presidential election.
  • December 1, 2018, The new president takes office. 

The presidency is decided by whoever garners the largest number of votes, a majority is not required. The last president to win with a majority of votes was Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1988, who won with 50.7%. Vincente Fox (PAN) defeated the dominant PRI candidate Francisco Labastida 42.52% to 36.11%. The past two presidential elections have been squeakers. The 2006 election went to Felipe Calderón (PAN) over Andrés Manuel López Obrador (MORENA) 35.89% to 35.51%. In 2012 the PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto defeated Obrador again, with 38.21% to 31.59. Obrador contested both election results.

Notable Differences in the Mexican Presidential Electoral Process

First and most evident is the inclusion of voters. Representatives if INE will go door to door, be seen in major shopping locations and publicize in media the importance of registration and voting. A Mexican must have an IFE (Institute Federal Electoral) and be over 18 years of age. You must be registered by March 1, 2018, but may register for your card if you turn 18 before July 1. The IFE card is also often used as an ID in business with the federal government

As a part of INE's efforts, media ads encourage citizens to participate in a variety of levels including candidacy, political activism, oversight participation and just plain turning out to vote. The theme is, to combat corruption - participate. As a result, Mexico has a high rate of voter turn out in presidential elections than the US by at least 10% of the voting population and a higher percentage inclusion of registered adult voters by 22%. 

There are active offices for expatriate voter registration in Los Angeles and several other cities with large Mexican populations. 

Since public funds are used in the campaign INE also monitors the political messages on major media. Mexico doesn't have has strong laws in 'truth in advertising' but does have evolving rules when it comes to political advertising. Mudslinging,  unsubstantiated falsehoods and candidate publicity outside of the prescribed dates can result in loss of radio and TV time slots and funding. Following the social media debacle in the 2016 US campaign INE will include internet and social media posts. Two candidates Antonio Meade (PRI) and Lopez Obrador (MORENA) have already been cautioned on their media in 2017. Foreign influence of elections is illegal and closely monitored and INE will continue to expand their work into the internet messages and postings. 

Every eligible voter must present his voter registration card to vote. Upon voting the voters thumb it tinted with ink that is difficult to remove. (Hence you will see Mexicans with blue thumbs well into the first week of July.)

On the party side of the restrictions political parties in Mexico are required to have no more than 60% of their candidates of the same sex. This has opened an enourmous window for women to become elected in Mexico. 

Mexican Politics is Complicated

A significant number of our readers are bi-national Mexican citizens. This will be my first presidential election and I intend to vote. But Mexican politics, like any, can be complicated and it is unwise to cast your vote blindly by the associated political alignment with political parties you are familiar with back home. Voting blind party affiliations have always proven to be a bad idea. In the coming weeks, we will attempt to provide an unbias insight into the major political issues, platforms and the candidates as the race takes shape. There are several issues in this election that will affect the lives of foreign expatriates living in Mexico and for those of you that don't read Spanish well, we will hope to lift your knowledge from a state of ignorance to at least semi-informed. 

Next: The Elephant in the Room – The rise of crime across Mexico

Sources:

INE.mx

The Baker Institute at Rice University https://www.bakerinstitute.org

Wikipedia

MySA mysanantonio.com

FairVote.org

TV Azteca www.tvazteca.com

BCS Noticias bcsnoticias.mx

Supreme Court of Mexico https://www.scjn.gob.mx/

Institute Federal Electoral https://www.ifes.org


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