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Column 061515 Wall

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mexico's 2015 Mid-term Elections were held on June 7

By Allan Wall

Mexican voters went to the polls on June 7th, 2015 for mid-term elections.

The entire 500 seat Cámara de Diputados (the Mexican equivalent of our House of Representatives) was up for grabs, as nobody currently in that body can be reelected.

There were no elections for the Mexican Senate (more on that later).

In addition to congressional elections, across the country there were nine gubernatorial elections.  There were 17 state legislatures chosen, and 300 municipios held elections for mayors.

In the Cámara de Diputados, the PRI party, with its allies, held on to its majority but not by a wide margin.  The PRI doesn’t have a majority in the Senate.

The Mexican political system runs on a six-year schedule, in contrast to that of the U.S.A., which runs on a four-year cycle.

In the U.S. there are presidential elections every four years, the latest having been in 2012 and the next scheduled for 2016.  At the halfway point between each presidential election, congressional mid-term elections are held, the last ones having been in 2014.

In Mexico, the president is elected every six years, the last election having been held in 2012 and the next one scheduled for 2018.  Mexican mid-term congressional elections are thus held at the halfway-point between presidential elections, three years after the previous one and three years before the next. 

There were ten Mexican political parties involved in these mid-term elections.

And, in addition to those ten parties, for the first time independent candidates were allowed to run.

A few independent candidates actually won, the most prominent being Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, also known as “el Bronco,” who won the election for the governorship of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, of which Monterrey is the capital.

I invite the reader to read an article I previously wrote, in 2012, about Mexican elections.  It’s entitled Elections in Mexico and the US: Comparisons and Contrasts.

Like the United States, Mexico has a two-chamber (bicameral) Congress. The upper chamber is the Senado, equivalent to the U.S. Senate. The lower chamber is the Cámara de Diputados, equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives.

While the U.S. Congress has 100 senators and 435 representatives, the Mexican Congress is actually larger (in both chambers).  There are 128 senadores in the Senado, and 500 diputados in the Cámara de Diputados.

In the Cámara de Diputados, 300 of the 500 diputados are directly elected by districts.  The other 200, however, are selected by proportional representation, with seats allocated based on the percentage of votes received by the political party in the circunscripción electoral in which the state is located. (Mexico is divided into five divisions called circunscripciones electorales.)

In the Mexican Senado the selection process is even more complicated.  Each of Mexico’s 31 states, plus the Federal District, sends three senators to the Congress.

Candidates from each political party run in pairs, with the pair winning the most votes elected to the Senado to represent their particular state.  The state's other senador is from the political party that came in second in that state's senatorial election.

That accounts for 96 senators. The other 32 are selected by proportional representation, bringing that body to a total of 128.

In 2015 no senadores were elected.  Unlike the U.S., where senators' terms are staggered, with a third up for reelection each two years, in Mexico the entire Senate is elected the same year, and that was in 2012.

In the Mexican Congress, senators and representatives are barred from immediate reelection, though they can return for a later term and stand for reelection.  Since the diputados have three-year terms, and the senadores have six-year terms, that means the entire Cámara de Diputados is replaced every three years, and the entire Senado every six years.  Thus the entire Congress is replaced every six years.

That however is in the process of being changed.  Constitutional reforms passed in late 2013 and early 2014 will make it possible for future diputados and senadores to be reelected, to serve a maximum of 12 consecutive years (two terms for senadores and four terms for diputados).

That change didn’t come into effect for this mid-term election, however, so no diputado could stand for reelection.

However, according to the reforms, they will be able to do so in 2018.

So that means some of the diputados elected in 2015, and senadores elected in 2012, may stand for reelection in 2018 — and some may actually be reelected.

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

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