Comparison of the American Political System to the Mexican Political System - Politics Essay Example
Comparison of the American Political System to the Mexican Political System
The Mexican political system has changed from an authoritarian regime to a democratic state - Comparison of the American Political System to the Mexican Political System introduction. The country had moderate authoritarian regime for most of its history since the 1940s. The system was institutionalized since it dealt with the most disturbing problem of non democratic systems which is the succession and renewal of leaders. It did not exclude or eliminate political forces but instead tried to cooperate with these forces. Most leaders of dissident political groups were designated to government controlled organizations. Occasionally the opponents of the regime would be encouraged to create small parties. The Mexican Revolution united the various factions into a single party called the National Revolutionary Party. The party’s social reforms enabled it to remain in power. The reforms of the 1970s inside the electoral system allowed proportional representation seats in allowing opposition parties to obtain seats.
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The presidential elections in 1988 marked the first threat to the ruling party. Cardenas, a defector from the ruling party was nominated by a coalition of leftist parties (Alba, 26). The opposition parties accused the government of preventing Cardenas from winning the election by manipulating the results using the electoral commission which was controlled by the government. The Mexican government reformed the political system by creating a federal institute to monitor the electoral process. Proportional representation and minority seats were innovations introduced in the political system in the 1990s (Alba, 26).
Numerous reforms were implemented which included the opening of the Mexican political system. Mexican opposition parties were successful during the election as they made impressive gains at all levels. The government is based on a congressional system where the president of Mexico is the head of state and head of government (Alba, 28). Mexico’s federal government is divided into three structures which are the executive, legislature and judiciary. Each state which is part of the Mexico has a republican system based on the congressional model.
Mexican Presidents have the executive power along with a cabinet of secretaries. This cabinet plays an advisory role by making policy recommendations. The cabinet is independent of the legislature. Legislative power in Mexico is exercised by the Congress of the Union which is bicameral and comprises of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies (Alba, 32). The political system of the United States is a republican form with separation of powers. The legislative, executive and judiciary form the distribution of the power of the state in the United States of America. Each branch of the state is independent of each other with checks and balances. Executive power is with the President while the judicial power is with the Supreme Court. The United States is a federal system with the federal government and state governments sharing powers and responsibilities. Federal government consists of the President, Congress and the Supreme Court. The Congress has the power of legislature. The US Constitution and law can be created by the Congress. The President of the United States of America is the supreme commander of the armed forces is elected for a term of four years. He can be re-elected for two terms only. The President has the power to enforce and execute laws passed by the US Congress.
The Supreme Court is the highest authority of the judiciary. Unitary and district tribunals form the other levels of the Mexican judiciary. Mexico’s political system has been dominated three major parties. The Institutional Revolutionary Party is the most powerful which has ruled the country since the revolution. The National Action Party and Party of the Democratic Revolution are emerging parties which made impressive gains in recent elections (Alba, 35). The Chambers of Deputies has an estimated five hundred members. Free universal elections are held every three years to nominate the deputies. The executive power is based upon a single individual, the president of Mexico. He is elected for a six year term without the possibility of re-election. The Mexican political system does not have vice-president. An interim president can be elected if there is absence of the President or the Congress of the Union. Each member of the cabinet and senate can be appointed by the president of Mexico. He is also responsible for enforcing and executing the law.
In Mexico, the judiciary is appointed by the President with Senate approval. They interpret laws and judge cases at the federal level. The principle of proportional representation is used to elect two hundred of the Chamber of Deputies (Johnson, 44).The Senate consists of senators who are elected for every six years using a parallel voting system. Sixty four of the senators are elected by the principle of plurality while thirty two are elected on the basis of minority representation. The remaining senators are elected by proportional representation (Johnson, 45).
The United States Congress is the legislature of the United States government which is divided into the Senate and House of Representatives. The House of Representative has lawmakers who can serve for two year terms. Each member represents a district in his or her home state. The number of districts is determined by the population of states. The states which have more districts have more representatives in the House of Representative (Johnson, 61). The Senate consists of the lawmakers who serve for a term of six years. Each state has two senators whose terms are spread over a period of time. This allows the presence of experienced senators in Congress. The Chief justice presides over the Supreme Court along with eight associate judges. The court determines that no legislative or executive action violates the US Constitution. The United States has two major political parties, the Democrat and Republicans (Johnson, 62).
On paper the Mexican political system appears to be very similar to the United States. It has a presidential system with three autonomous branches of government with checks and balances. There is a federal government which provides considerable autonomy to the sates. However in practice since the 1990s, the political system in Mexico is very different from the United States. Decision making has become centralized which has caused resentment by the state governments in Mexico (Levy, 11). While the majority of people in the United States are elected independently, inside Mexico political candidates are selected by higher ranking members of the PRI government apparatus. The United States provides a great deal of autonomy to its member states. The Mexican constitution is also federalist in structure which allows states to practice autonomy. However in practice the system has usually functioned as political centralism (Levy, 12).
Mexico is divided into thirty one states and Federal District which is in turn divided into political administrative units roughly equal in size and functions to county governments in the United States. The Mexican president enjoys domination of the executive because of the control over the political system. The United States political system has checks and balances to prevent any domination by the three branches of the federal government. There are hardly any interest groups or lobbies for promotion of their interests because of the strong control exerted by the executive over the legislative and judicial branches of the government. The dominance of the executive over the legislature and judicial branches has prevented the rise of interest groups and lobbyists in Mexico. Most groups try to protect their interests or change policies by using their contacts with the government. Presidents in Mexico have greater authority as compared with American presidents. Many Mexicans also favour a strong president as the executive branch handles ninety percent of Mexico’s legislation (Levy, 16).
Mexican presidents can select members of the cabinet. The Mexican cabinet consists of key allies of the president who make policy recommendations. The legislature has limited power because each bill must be submitted and approved by the president (Aldrich, 31). Similarly the judiciary also has limited power due to the vast authority of the president. The Supreme Court members are appointed by the President with support from the Senate like the United States. However they rarely shape laws using the judiciary unlike the United States of America (Aldrich, 34). The Mexican Supreme Court is limited in contrast to its American counterpart to change or modify the country’s laws. This results in the court having little influence over important policy matters. Unlike the American system which has a provision for Vice President, the Mexican political system does not have a Vice President. Further differences are that the American political system is highly stable, decentralized and free as compared with the Mexican political system (Aldrich, 35).
The Mexican political system will continue to evolve as it makes its transition from an authoritarian system to a democratic system. Many reforms introduced in the 1990s were instrumental in opening the system. The reforms allowed the participation of numerous political parties and minorities in the executive, legislative and judiciary (Aldrich, 40). The political domination of the Institutional Revolutionary Party has diminished but not been finished. The founders of the Mexican revolution retain considerable clout in Mexico. However the Mexican political system has evolved where it is making a smooth transition to democracy.
Alba, Victor. The Mexicans: The Making of a Nation. New York: Praeger, 2005.
Aldrich, Daniel G., Jr., and Lorenzo Meyer, eds. Mexico and the United States: Neighbors in Crisis. San Bernardino, California: Borgo Press, 2004.
Johnson, Kenneth F. Mexican Democracy: A Critical View. Rev. ed. New York: Praeger, 2003.
Johnson, William Weber. Heroic Mexico: The Violent Emergence of a Modern Nation. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 2005
Levy, Daniel C., and Gabriel Székely. Mexico: Paradoxes of Stability and Change. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2006.