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Mexico: President Promulgates Electoral Political Reform

(Mar. 31, 2014) On February 10, 2014, a decree published in Mexico’s federal gazette amended, added, and repealed many provisions of 31 articles of the Mexican Constitution that affect political-electoral matters. (Decreto por el que se Reforma, Adiciona y Derogan Diversas Disposiciones de la Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, en Materia Política-Electoral, DIARIO OFICIAL DE LA FEDERACIÓN (DOF) (Feb. 10, 2014).) The reform, which was passed by the federal Congress and by most state legislatures, includes among others the following measures.

Reelection Permitted

· Members of the Federal Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate may run for reelection and remain in office for up to 12 years. Senators can be elected to serve two consecutive six-year terms. Federal Deputies can run for up to four consecutive three-year terms. This amendment will be applied to legislators who are elected as of the elections of 2018. (Id. art. 59 & 11th transitory article.)

· Legislators within the states may run for reelection for up to four consecutive terms. This reform does not apply to local legislators who were already sworn in for the legislature that was operational as of the time of the entry into force of the amending Decree, that is, February 11, 2014. (Id. art. 116(II) & 13th transitory article.)

· Mayors may be reelected for an additional term, provided their original term of office does not exceed three years. This amendment does not apply to mayors who were in office at the time of entry into force of the amending Decree. (Id. art. 115(I) & 14th transitory article.)

Measures Affecting the Presidency

· The date of the inauguration of the President of the Republic is changed from December 1 to October 1. (Id. art. 83.)

· The President may opt to establish a coalition government with one or more of the political parties represented in the federal Congress. (Id. art. 89(XVII).)

Organizational Changes

· The Prosecutor General’s Office (Fiscalía General de la República) is created as an independent body with legal personality and its own assets; it will replace the Attorney General’s Office (Procuradoría General de la República). (Id. art. 102.)

· The creation of the National Electoral Institute (INE) as a public institution, with legal personality and its own assets. The INE will be the electoral authority, independent in its decisions and operations. The INE will be responsible for the organization of federal elections. In addition, it will take over, by agreement with the competent authorities of the states that so request, the organization of local elections, under the terms provided by applicable law. Moreover, at the request of political parties, the INE may organize elections of party leaders, according to the terms established by law. The INE replaces the Federal Electoral Institute. (Id. art. 41(V, ¶¶ A and B).)

· The audit of the finances of political parties and of the campaigns of the candidates will be the responsibility of the General Council (Consejo General) of the INE. (Id. art. 41(V) ¶ B7.)

Provision for Annulment of Elections

Implementing legislation will establish a system of annulment of federal and local elections for grave and decisive violations of the campaign finance expenditure ceiling or media advertising limits or for the use of illegal resources in election campaigns. It is presumed that the violations are decisive when the difference between the votes obtained by the first and the second place candidates is less than five percent. (Id. art. 41(VI).)

Other Notable Provisions

· There must be gender parity in the nomination of candidates in federal and local congressional elections. (Id. art. 41(I).)

· Independent candidates are for the first time allowed to run for public office. (Id. art. 41(III).)

· In order to remain legally registered, political parties must win at least three percent of the votes cast in elections for the President of the Republic or for the members of the chambers of the federal Congress. The previous requirement was two percent. (Id. art. 41(I).)