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Column 091012 Wall

Monday, September 10, 2012

Officially, Mexico has a President-elect and a New Congress

By Allan Wall

Last July 1st Mexico held elections, choosing a new president and electing an entirely new Congress.  Two months later, the transition is proceeding on schedule.

Enrique Peña Nieto, of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional), is scheduled to take office on December 1st for a six-year term as President.

Peña Nieto received 38.21% of the vote, while Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (often referred to as AMLO), of the PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) and allied parties, was the runner-up with 31.59% of the vote.

AMLO was also a candidate in the 2006 election.  In both the 2006 and 2012 elections, AMLO came in second and contested the election results.

On August 31st Mexico's Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federación, hereinafter referred to as TEPJF, ruled that Enrique Peña Nieto won the Mexican presidential election of 2012.

The TEPJF is the Mexican court that deals specifically with electoral issues.  It certifies the validity of federal elections and rules on disputes.

The principal, permanent TEPJF court has seven members and is located in Mexico City.  There are also five lower, regional chambers in the system, which are only in session in federal election years. Each regional chamber consists of a panel of three judges.

The seven-member TEPJF in Mexico City is the court that ruled on August 31st that Enrique Peña Nieto was the winner of the Mexican presidential election.  The court did not accept the arguments of AMLO that the election should be annulled.

The TEPJF reported that 50,143,616 votes were cast on July 1st.  Of that total, 19,158,592 were cast for Peña Nieto, 15,848,827 for AMLO, 12,732,630 for Josefina Vazquez Mota, 1,146,085 for Gabriel Quadri, 20,625 for unregistered candidates, and 1,236,857 ballots were nullified.

Therefore, on August 31st, Jose Alejandro Luna Ramos, the court's president, personally presented to Peña Nieto the constancia, the legal document that says the candidate won the election.  It's a big, framed document (see photograph here).

So Peña Nieto is scheduled to begin his six-year term on December 1st.

Lopez Obrador has still refused to accept the election results and is promising a campaign of civil disobedience.  However, it's likely that the presidential transition will continue on schedule.  Most Mexicans have accepted Peña Nieto's electoral triumph.

Even Jesús Zambrano, leader of AMLO's PRD party, while not formally acknowledging Peña Nieto's triumph, has said it's acceptable for PRD governors to recognize and work with the Peña Nieto administration in order to carry out their gubernatorial duties.

Besides electing a new president, Mexicans elected an entirely new Congress on July 1st.  On September 1st, the new Congress took office and started its session.

The Cámara de Diputados, equivalent of the U.S. House of Representives, has 500 diputados. Here is how the seats are distributed, party-wise:

  • PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) -- 239
  • PAN (Partido Acción Nacional) -- 142
  • PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) -- 69
  • PVEM (Partido Verde Ecologista de México) -- 23
  • PT (Partido del Trabajo) -- 13
  • PANAL (Partido de la Nueva Alianza) -- 7
  • MC (Movimiento Ciudadano) -- 6
  • Independent Diputados -- 1

You can see that no one party has a majority in this chamber.  However, if you add the number of PRI and PVEM (Green Party) diputados, it tallies up as 262, a majority.  If the two parties can stick together, then they form a majority in the Cámara de Diputados.

The president of the Cámara de Diputados, equivalent to the U.S. Speaker of the House, is Jesús Murillo Karam, of the PRI.

The Cámara de Senadores, equivalent of the U.S. Senate, has 128 senadores.  Here is how the seats in that chamber are distributed, party-wise:

  • PAN (Partido Acción Nacional) -- 50 senadores
  • PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) -- 33 senadores
  • PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) -- 23 senadores
  • PVEM (Partido Verde Ecologista de México) -- 8 senadores
  • PT (Partido del Trabajo) -- 5 senadores
  • MC (Movimiento Ciudadano) -- 5 senadores
  • Independents -- 4 senadores

In this chamber, no party has a majority on its own or in conjunction with allied parties.

The president of the Senate, equivalent to Senate Majority Leader in the U.S., is Ernesto Cordero Arroyo of the PAN.

Whereas Mexico's new Congress took office on September 1st, and Peña Nieto doesn't take office until December 1st, that means this Congress will serve with current President Felipe Calderon for 3 months.

Speaking of Felipe Calderon, he is working with President-Elect Peña Nieto to ensure a smooth transition.  It's part of the outgoing President's legacy.

In 2012, both the U.S. and Mexico have presidential elections.  Mexico's election is over, while the election north of the border is scheduled for November 6th.  I invite readers to peruse my article entitled Elections in Mexico and the US: Comparisons and Contrasts.  I think it's useful for Americans to know about the political system of our southern neighbor.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located athttp://www.allanwall.info/.


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