Mexico Must Take Action To Protect Its Democracy

07/21/2016 The Huffington Post 

pena nieto wefIn the shadow of the U.S. presidential elections, Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto returns to the White House this Friday to talk trade, immigration, and security with President Obama. The two met in Canada less than a month ago, but there is indeed much unfinished business.

First, Mexico must act now to implement promised labor law reforms that would strengthen the labor justice system and end the practice of employer-controlled “protection contracts.”

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Canada-Mexico Cooperation on Security and Defence

06/28/2016 Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau

canadaPrime Minister Trudeau and President Peña Nieto have both underlined the importance of a renewed strategic partnership based on the principles of democracy, respect for the environment, improved economic opportunity, and respect for human rights.

In order to increase prosperity – and improve equality – for Canadians and Mexicans alike, both countries will work together to deepen cooperation to promote the safety and security of our people. This commitment focuses on all types of threats, including natural disasters, extreme weather events, crime, terrorism, and health-related problems.

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Infographic: Local Elections in 2015 in Mexico

During the 2015 elections in Mexico, 17 states will renew governorships, municipalities, and/or local congresses. Outcomes at the local level could change the political map of the country. This infographic illustrates the states that will hold local elections in 2015, as well as the type of election each will hold.

For more news and analysis on the 2015 midterm elections, check out the Mexico Institute’s 2015 Elections Guide:

Local elections map

Click here to view the infographic. 

Ordinary Opinions of Everyday Mexicans: Polling from the 1940s-2012

By Roderic Ai Camp, Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member
April 2015


The evolution of the importance of public opinion in Mexico is intertwined with the emphasis of scholars, both foreign and Mexican, introducing survey research techniques. These efforts became more common in the 1960s and 1970s, but became increasingly significant in the 1980s, when major newspapers and other publications begin to sponsor wide-ranging public opinion polls. Public opinion polls played a critical role in Mexico’s democratic political transition during the 1980s and 1990s, informing ordinary Mexicans about how their peers viewed candidates and important policy issues, while simultaneously allowing citizens, for the first time, to assess a potential candidate’s likelihood of winning an election before the vote, while also confirming actual election outcomes through exit polls. Polling data reveal changing social, religious, economic, and political attitudes among Mexicans over time, revealing the importance of both traditional and contemporary values in explaining citizen behavior.

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Democratizing Mexican Politics, 1982-2012

By Roderic Ai Camp, Mexico Institute Advisory Board Member
April 2015

Mexico’s democratic transition provides a revealing case study of a semi-authoritarian political model evolving incrementally into an electoral democracy over two decades. One of the special features of that transition was its slow progress compared to its peers in Latin America, especially given its proximity to the United States, the most influential democracy in the last half of the 20th century.The first attempt to introduce fair, competitive elections occurred under the leadership of Miguel de la Madrid in 1983, but he reversed direction when he was opposed by leading politicians from his own party. His successor, Carlos Salinas (1988–1994), chose to pursue economic liberalization, opening up Mexico to greater competition globally, and negotiating an agreement with Canada and the United States (North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA), while maintaining an authoritarian presidency. During this era, proactive actors that fomented significant political change came from numerous sources. The following were particularly noteworthy in explaining Mexico’s shift to a democratic model: dissident elites who pushed for democracy inside the dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); dissident elites who left PRI to form the most successful opposition parties in the 20th century, including the founding of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in 1989; social and civic movements originating from government incompetence in addressing the results of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, the widespread fraud during the 1988 presidential election, and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation uprising in 1994; the altered composition of political leadership from the establishment and the opposition characterized by stronger backgrounds in local, elective offices, party leadership, and nonpolitical careers; new electoral laws reinforcing independent decision-making regarding electoral practices and outcomes in the 1990s; and the introduction of new political actors supportive of democratic change, such as the Catholic Church.

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New: The Mexico Institute’s 2015 Elections Guide

2015Elections_LargeOn June 7th 2015, Mexicans will take to the polls to elect a new cohort of federal deputies. This new generation of politicians will be the first deputies who are eligible for re-election since the Porfiriato system broke apart with the Mexican revolution.   In 2018, federal legislators will be allowed to stand for re-election for up to a total of 12 years, providing a unique opportunity to build caucuses within the congress and hopefully develop a more professional legislative support staff.

In addition to the 500 federal deputies, Mexico will elect 17 state-level legislatures, 9 governors, and more than 300 mayors. This year´s election is also, of course, a litmus test of public opinion regarding the PRI government of President Enrique Peña Nieto. Much has been made of the President´s low public approval rating, but his party remains the most popular in the eyes of the Mexican electorate, with around 32% in a recent poll. If one adds in the support for the PRI´s coalition partner Green Party, that figure quickly approaches 40%, potentially sufficient to give the governing coalition another majority in the Chamber of Deputies.

The Wilson Center´s Mexico Institute is marking this historic election by launching a new web resource that brings the latest polling numbers, analysis and opinion to our readers. The Mexico Institute’s 2015 Elections Guide will be updated daily and will provide a one-stop shop for English language information on the vote.

We hope you enjoy the new resource, and please send us your comments and suggestions so that we can improve the service.

Duncan Wood

Visit the Mexico Institute’s 2015 Elections Guide

NEW PUBLICATION! A Mexican Utopia: The Rule of Law is Possible

A Mexican UtopiaThe Mexico Institute is pleased to publish a new book by Wilson Center Global Fellow Luis RubioA Mexican Utopia: The Rule of Law is Possible.

“The proposal of the book is very simple, and appears utopian, thus its title: the President makes the Rule of Law his own and decides not to violate its elementary principles for the sake of expediency. That is, that he break with all legal, presidential and political tradition that has historically permitted presidents to adapt the laws to their own needs and convenience, to impose their will on legislative and judicial powers, to control the state governors and, in short, enjoy enormous, albeit temporary, power. As practically all former presidents have found after their mandate, that power was in the last analysis ephemeral. The proposal is to institutionalize political power by means of the elevation of the Rule of Law by the President of the Republic.”

Download the book here, available in both English and Spanish.