Mexico

   

Quality of Democracy

#39
Key Findings
Struggling to contain corrosive organized-crime influences, Mexico falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) with regard to democracy quality. Its score in this area has declined by 1.1 points relative to 2014.

Elections are highly regulated, but crime-group activities undermine electoral integrity. The 2018 election campaign was the most expensive in history, with vast sums spent illegally. The media is independent of government, but rampant violence against journalists makes reporting on corruption and collusion dangerous. Social media has helped bypass oligopolistic media structures.

The security forces frequently violate civil rights, with courts failing to provide adequate protection. A new law against forced disappearances, a very serious problem, has not been implemented. The new president has promised to create a truth commission. Violent crime is widespread, with journalists and political candidates frequently murdered.

While overt discrimination varies by region, class lines closely track racial divisions. Courts have approved same-sex marriage, but not all states have followed the ruling. Corruption is a serious problem in politics, the judiciary and the police. The court system is ineffective particularly at prosecuting powerful individuals.

Electoral Processes

#35

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
8
The electoral process is supervised by an autonomous agency, the Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE), following a constitutional reform in 2014 and the creation in 1990 of the Instituto Federal Electoral. INE is responsible for the registration of parties, candidates and voters, and for administering elections.
While in principle the process for registering political parties is open and transparent, high registration requirements as well as a bureaucratic and lengthy registration process create a strong status quo bias. To meet the requirements for registering a new national political party, organizations must demonstrate a minimum of 3,000 members, representation in at least 20 of the 32 states, and a minimum of 300 members in at least 200 electoral districts. Historically, the high barriers for party formation have served to discourage new and small political groups from challenging the established parties.
Since 2015, independent candidates have been allowed to run for office in national elections but the requirements for participating are high. To appear on the ballot, independent presidential candidates must collect more than 850,000 signatures nationally and obtain the support of at least 1% of registered voters in 17 states. In the 2018 elections, 48 independent candidates announced their candidacy for the presidency, but only two, Margarita Zavala and Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, managed to fulfill the requirements. After Zavala withdrew in May 2018, Rodríguez Calderón was the only independent candidate left, receiving 5.23% of votes in the presidential elections.

Close linkages between some candidates and organized crime, especially at the subnational level, as well as violence and corruption continue to undermine the integrity of the political system and the electoral process.

Citations:
Harbers, Imke and Matthew C. Ingram “On the engineerability of political parties: evidence from Mexico.” In:, I. van Biezen, and H. M. ten Napel. Regulating political parties: European democracies in comparative perspective (2014): 253-277.

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
6
The electoral process in Mexico is subject to a comparatively high degree of regulation. During the transition to democracy during the 1990s, electoral laws were revised to ensure more equitable conditions for the main political parties.

Currently, all registered political parties are eligible for public financing, the volume of which corresponds to their electoral strength. There are restrictions on the amount of money parties are allowed to raise and spend. Media access during the official campaign period is regulated to ensure a measure of equality. Nevertheless, outside the tightly regulated political campaigns, news coverage is often heavily biased in favor of incumbents. Presidents as well as governors spend exorbitant sums on advertising and pro-government propaganda. Since news outlets rely on this income for their financial survival, they can often scarcely afford to criticize sitting administrations. The Peña Nieto administration has taken this long-standing practice to new levels. According to a report compiled by the think tank Fundar based on government data, his administration spent nearly $2 on advertising in the past five years, substantially more than any previous administrations.
Broadcasting networks and newspapers depend on that money, the big television networks Televisa and Azteca receive around 10% of their advertisement revenue from the federal government. A Supreme Court ruling in November 2017 demanded further regulation and limitation, but the new provisions are yet to be implemented.
In the 2018 campaign, the winner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was challenged by the mainstream media, although his use of social media and the support he received from activists successfully overcame this. The oligopolized market of traditional media has lost political weight.

Citations:
New York Times (25 Dec 2017) “Using Billions in Government Cash, Mexico Controls News Media.”

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
8
Mexico has had universal suffrage since 1953 and male suffrage since 1917. Legally, Mexico by and large conforms to the standards of electoral democracies, especially on the national level. The organization and administration of elections is managed professionally by the National Electoral Institute (INE). In recent years, INE oversight over state-level electoral institutions has increased. There is also a system of electoral courts, which are generally more professional and independent than the criminal courts. Citizens and party members can appeal to these courts if their political or electoral rights are violated.
Voters have to register through INE to receive a voter identification card. The same electoral register is used for federal and state or local elections. This may serve to discourage marginalized and less educated citizens from voting.
A total of 89,978,701 people, approximately 72.7% of the Mexican population, applied for the required ID in 2018.
Mexicans living abroad (about 10% of the population) are allowed to vote for the president, but turnout is extremely low, in part due to the difficult registration process. More than 11 million Mexicans live abroad, but only 100,000 participated in the 2018 elections.
In general, Mexican elections are considered mostly free and fair. Complaints concern vote-buying and some minor problems, such as the theft of 34 ballot boxes by armed groups. Violence is a major problem. During the 2018 elections, 133 candidates were killed, most of the candidates are presumed to have been murdered by organized criminal gangs.

Citations:
Miranda, Fernando (28 de junio de 2018). «Acaban campañas con récord en el nivel de violencia». El Universal.

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
4
Mexico’s elections are highly regulated by the state. This reflects a history of electoral fraud and rigged elections which resulted in distrust between parties and a desire to formalize rules. The National Electoral Institute (INE) is in charge of monitoring party compliance with electoral rules and regulations. It is also responsible for administering and auditing the public funding of parties.
By international comparison, public funding of political parties in Mexico is extremely generous. Political parties are mostly financed by the state and there are restrictions on the amount of fundraising permitted. INE also coordinates campaign advertisements for parties. Electoral expenditures have been similarly controlled. INE can and does impose significant sanctions on political parties if they fail to comply with funding rules. However, oversight is incomplete and INE audits have revealed illegal undisclosed funding to parties.
In 2018, registered parties received more than MXN 2 billion for campaigning and more than MXN 4 billion for permanent activities, a total of more than MXN 6.5 billion. PRI received more than MXN 1.6 billion, PAN more than MXN 1.2 billion, PRD a bit less than MXN 800 million, MORENA a bit more than MXN 600 million. The campaign 2018 was the most expensive in Mexican history.
While INE’s bureaucracy is by and large efficient and impartial, the weak rule of law and ineffective criminal courts undermine the integrity of elections. According to media reports concerning illegal campaign financing, for every peso spent legally, an estimated MXN 15 was spent illegally. Funds are often misused for vote-buying. Shortly after the elections, INE fined MORENA MXN 197 million for misusing a solidarity fund for victims of the 2017 earthquake. Almost MXN 65 million were spent without records. Morena’s main rivals, PRI and PAN, were also fined, although their fines were not as high. As previous examples of party financing scandals have shown (e.g., PRI MONEXGATE 2000, PAN AMIGOS DE FOX 2000 and PEMEXGATE 2012), illegal campaign financing had been proven and sanctioned years later, but without any effect on elections or campaigns.

Citations:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-44884993

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
4
There are no provisions for legally binding referenda or popular initiatives at the federal level in Mexico. Attempts by the opposition to subject government initiatives to some kind of direct vote have failed because there is no constitutional provision for this. Citizens are therefore more likely to influence public policy through demonstrations or legal action than through popular decision-making.
In October 2018, an NGO organized a referendum on a planned airport near Mexico City, scheduled to be the third largest in the world. About one million Mexicans participated, a majority of almost 70% rejected the new airport. A novelty in Mexico, it was not legally binding. The new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has promised to introduce new direct and popular decision-making mechanisms.

Access to Information

#37

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
3
Officially, freedom of expression is protected and the media is independent from the government. Through extensive spending on advertisement, the government exerts influence over the tone and type of coverage by news outlets. Broadcasting networks and newspapers depend on government advertising spending, the big television networks Televisa and Azteca receive around 10% of their advertisement revenue from the federal government. Newspapers depend as well on government spending on advertising. While it is difficult to know the true extent of biased coverage, there is concrete evidence that investigative stories about collusion and corruption are suppressed, and journalists and outlets pay a high price for publishing such pieces. Moreover, critical journalists have been tracked using surveillance technology, such as the “Pegasus” spyware, sold to and used by the Mexican government.
While media freedom is not severely restricted by the government, substantial restrictions exist on what news outlets can cover without fear of reprisal. Topics such as corruption or collusion between organized crime and public officials are particularly dangerous territory. According to data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mexico is one of the most deadly places for journalists, surpassed only by Iraq and Syria, with regard to the number of journalists murdered. In 2017, more than 500 journalists have been attacked and 12 journalists were killed. In 2018, eight journalists were killed between January and October. Journalists are routinely harassed and kidnapped. Since 2000, 138 journalists have been killed, 24 have disappeared. These dangers particularly affect journalists working for subnational news outlets as well as those who report critically on corruption and linkages between politicians and organized crime. The federal government fails to act decisively to protect journalists. When journalists are murdered, there is broad impunity for their killers. Thus, even though press freedom is codified in national laws, in practice there are substantial restrictions on press freedom. Mexico ranked 147 out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index 2018.

Citations:
New York Times (10 July 2017) “Spyware in Mexico Targeted Investigators Seeking Students.”

Articulo 19: https://articulo19.org/periodistasasesinados/

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
6
The Mexican media is much more diversified and politically pluralist than it was a generation ago, but ownership is still highly concentrated. Despite Peña Nieto’s telecommunication reform, broadcasting continues to be characterized by oligopolistic ownership. In this area, very little has changed thus far and changes appear unlikely in the near future given the government’s close ties to the broadcasting company Televisa. Lack of government support has left regulators, like the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), essentially toothless.

Mexicans take full advantage of internet-based media, which have grown in both size and significance and offer a wide spectrum of information. In the 2018 elections, the left-wing candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, used social media as an alternative to mainstream media. The development of online media has done much to enhance pluralism through bypassing traditional, highly oligopolized media structures. On the other hand, however, internet-based media have also created new challenges. There are challenges regarding the journalistic quality of small and highly diverse media outlets. Moreover, there is evidence of news websites being hacked, and spyware being used against journalists and activists. Moreover, broadband access and cellphone coverage are highly unequal, with rural and marginalized citizens unable to take advantage of these new sources of information. This is unlikely to change in the near future.

Citations:
Latin American Regional Report: Mexico & NAFTA (February 2017). “Telecoms Reforms fail to impress sharp-eyed viewers.”

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
5
Mexico’s freedom of information act became law in 2002. The law was the first in Latin America to impose obligations on the state to publicly share information and increase the level of political transparency. Mexico’s freedom of information act has proved to be a considerable success in increasing publicly available information. Scholars, journalists and bureaucrats have all made use of its provisions and a lot of new information has come to light. Despite the progressive spirit of the law, however, the extent to which it is obeyed and enforced varies considerably. Powerful public and private actors can delay and obscure access to information, despite formal transparency laws. As is often the case in Mexico, there is a gap between theory and practice. The government response to the disappearance of a group of students in Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero, and the frustrated efforts by an international committee to investigate the role federal and local authorities and security forces played in their disappearance, is a case in point. The incoming president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has promised a truth committee to shed light on the event.

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#39

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
2
In principle, Mexico guarantees most civil rights via its legal and constitutional systems. Nevertheless, access to the court system and protection against violations are both highly unequal. Overall, the rule of law is weak, and there is widespread impunity the rule, which undermines the effectiveness of formally guaranteed rights.

The tension between formal rights and effective guarantees plays out especially forcefully in the field of security. Since 2006, the military has taken on a more prominent role in combating organized crime and drug-trafficking organizations. During the current administration the number of states in which the military operates has increased from six to 27 (out of Mexico’s 32 states).

However, the Mexican military and other security forces are notorious for violating human rights, and the courts do not provide adequate protection to citizens victimized by the military or police. Since the beginning of the drug war in 2006, Mexico’s Human Rights Commission has received more than 10,000 complaints of abuse by the military, more than 2,000 of which occurred under the Peña Nieto administration. Federal prosecutors have opened more than 9,000 investigations, without a single conviction. An anti-torture law, passed in April 2017, is yet to be implemented. In December 2017, a new law on internal security was passed, legalizing military involvement in domestic law enforcement. The law lacks any effective provision for transparency, accountability or civilian oversight. In 2017, in response to public pressure, Mexico adopted a new law against forced disappearances. This law, which promises more resources for the issue and a national registry of missing people, has also not been implemented so far. By mid-2018, more than 37,000 people are reported to have disappeared, more than 2,000 people disappeared in the first half of 2018 alone.

The security situation has deteriorated markedly in 2017 and 2018 as the number of homicides, which had declined during the first years of the current administration, has increased to the highest level ever recorded since the state began keeping systematic records on crime and violence. More than 25,000 homicides were reported in 2017, while more than 16,000 were reported in the first six months of 2018. A total of more than 240,000 killings have been reported since the beginning of the so-called war on drugs. Against the background of escalating violence, it has generally been impossible to effectively hold the security forces to account for abuses. The disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa teaching college students is indicative and remains unresolved. Although international commissions accused the local and regional security apparatus, the Peña Nieto administration denied any accusations and refused to cooperate. The incoming president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has promised a truth commission. Human Rights Watch has spoken of the “human rights catastrophe” that the new president will inherit.

Citations:
https://www.hrw.org/americas/mexico
https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/29/mexico-torture-and-historical-truth

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
4
Political liberties are guaranteed by law, and public debate and electoral competition are meaningful. If political rights are violated, citizens have access to electoral courts which are generally professional and effective.

In many parts of the country, high levels of criminal violence undermine democracy. Public officials, especially at the local level, are kidnapped, harassed and even murdered with impunity. In 2018, 133 candidates and politicians have been killed. Journalists and activists are also targeted and, since 2000, 138 journalists have been killed and 24 disappeared.

While the lack of credible and capable legal investigations in such cases makes it impossible to know the true extent of the problem, there is considerable evidence that authorities are not merely inept. Rather, they are sometimes complicit in violating citizens’ political liberties. The justice system has proven to be particularly ineffective in prosecuting powerful rights violators. There are 14 current or former governors suspected of corruption, money laundering and links to organized crime currently under investigation, but impunity for corruption-related crimes is 98% and high-level politicians are rarely sentenced or impeached.

Hence, Latinobarometro polls indicate that satisfaction with democracy in Mexico has fallen from 41% in 2006 to 18% in 2017, while support for democracy has fallen from 54% in 2006 to 38% in 2017.

Citations:
Schedler, A. (2014). The criminal subversion of Mexican democracy. Journal of Democracy, 25(1), 5-18.

Amparo Casar, Maria (2018). The Shadow Hanging Over Mexico’s 2018 Elections. Americas Quarterly, https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/shadow-over-mexicos-2018-elections

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
5
While there is a societal norm against overt racial discrimination, there is a significant correlation between race and class. Light-skinned Mexicans are over-represented among the wealthy and powerful. Data from the Latin American Public Opinion Project shows that they have significantly higher educational attainment and more material wealth. Social discrimination varies by region and setting. In urban centers, there is growing awareness around issues of gender and sexuality. The local constitution adopted by the Mexico City constituent assembly includes a number of liberal and progressive provisions. Nevertheless, more traditional gender roles and the political and social marginalization of women continue to be the norm, particularly in rural and less affluent areas.

Worth mentioning are gender quotas for parties and elections, included in the 2014 constitutional reform. Women now hold 49% of seats in the Senate and 49.2% of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Additionally, five women ran as candidates for mayor of Mexico City and Claudia Sheinbaum (MORENA) became the first woman to govern the city.

The courts are increasingly assertive in taking up cases of gender equality, and LGBT and transgender rights. The Supreme Court ruled in October 2017 in favor of a transgender person against the state of Veracruz after the state had refused to change the person’s name and gender on their birth certificate. Another court ruling found in favor of same-sex marriage. In 2015, Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriage, but only 15 states including Mexico City have so far followed this ruling. However, while there is more awareness of gender discrimination, attention to indigenous rights and other forms of social stigmatization is more limited.
Moreover, as is often the case in Mexico, there is a considerable gap between formal rights, and their effective guarantee and enforcement. However, it is expected that the new AMLO government will invest more in the issue of non-discrimination.

Citations:
Human Rights Watch (2018). “Mexico Ruling Backs Same-Sex Couple.” https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/11/01/mexico-ruling-backs-same-sex-couple
Human Rights Watch (2018). “Mexico Transgender Ruling a Beacon for Change.” https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/10/29/mexico-transgender-ruling-beacon-change
Zizumbo-Colunga, D. and Iván Flores Martínez (2017). “Is Mexico a Post-Racial Country? Inequality and Skin Tone across the Americas.” AmericasBarometer: Topical Brief #31, (https://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/insights/ITB031en.pdf).

Rule of Law

#35

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
3
The rule of law continues to be characterized by an ineffective judicial system. Violence and crime, corruption and impunity undermine the rule of law.
In corruption-related crimes impunity reaches 98% and in homicides 97%. The adoption of a National Anti-Corruption System in July 2016 was seen by many observers as a major formal step toward improving the rule of law. The objective of the new system is to improve the coordination of anti-corruption efforts between all governmental bodies (on the federal, state and municipal levels), but implementation of the reform has been undermined by a lack of political will. More than two years after approval, key positions remain vacant, such as the special anti-corruption prosecutor.

Beyond the problem of corruption, the rule of law in Mexico has been seriously hampered by the increasing violence associated with the war on drugs. Criminal courts lack transparency, which further undermines trust and confidence in the judicial system. Overall, the system is particularly ineffective when it comes to prosecuting powerful individuals, such as former public officials. In this context, and also due to the security crisis, existing legal regulations often do not effectively constrain government and administration. This dramatic situation is not expected to change quickly under the new government.

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
5
The Supreme Court, having for years acted as a servant of the executive, has become substantially more independent since the transition to democracy in the 1990s. Court decisions are less independent at the lower level, particularly at the state and local level. At the local level, corruption and lack of training for court officials are other shortcomings. These problems are of particular concern because the vast majority of crimes fall under the purview of local authorities. There is widespread impunity and effective prosecution is the exception, rather than the rule.

Mexico is in the process of reforming the justice system from a paper-based inquisitorial system to a U.S.-style adversarial system with oral trials. Implementation of the new system will most likely take a generation since it involves the retraining of law enforcement and officers of the court. So far, law enforcement has often relied on forced confessions, rather than physical evidence, to ensure the conviction of suspects. To make the new system work, the investigative and evidence-gathering capacity of the police will have to be significantly strengthened.

Overall, the courts do a poor job of enforcing compliance with the law, especially when confronted with powerful or wealthy individuals. Improving the rule of law is a crucial challenge for the new government in the context of an ongoing security crisis.

Citations:
EFE México (2018). Sistema penal acusatorio en México, avance histórico frenado por corrupción. https://www.efe.com/efe/usa/mexico/sistema-penal-acusatorio-en-mexico-avance-historico-frenado-por-corrupcion/50000100-3498116

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
8
Mexican Supreme Court justices are nominated by the executive and approved by a two-thirds majority of Congress. Judicial appointments thus require a cross-party consensus since no party currently enjoys a two-thirds majority or is likely to have one in the near future. The system of federal electoral courts is generally respected and more independent and professional than the criminal courts. The situation is worse in lower courts, as judges are implicated in corruption or clientelist networks.

In the case of the national anti-corruption system (SNA) a lack of cross-party consensus has led to stalemate and delayed implementation. The lack of agreement among major parties in Congress has created a situation where none of the 13 judges for the Specialized Administrative Justice Tribunal (TFJA) have been appointed. The TFJA was created to hear government corruption cases.

Citations:
DW 2018. México: “El sistema anticorrupción está entrampado.” https://www.dw.com/es/méxico-el-sistema-anticorrupción-está-entrampado/a-42567912

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
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Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
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Corruption is widespread in Mexican politics, the judiciary and the police. Anti-corruption efforts so far have failed. After pleading guilty in September 2018, 14 former governors accused of corruption – including the former governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte – have been sentenced to nine years in prison, a small sign of hope. Most of these governors had been close allies of President Peña Nieto and were the public faces of his effort to re-launch the PRI in order to give the party a new start after its decades-long association with corruption and bribery. Beyond the governors, the former director of the state-owned oil company Pemex, another close Nieto ally, has also been accused of corruption in the fallout of the scandal surrounding the Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht. The Odebrecht scandal has rattled several Latin American countries, and now also engulfs high-placed public officials in Mexico. Although Odebrecht admitted bribing Pemex with $10.5 million, Mexican prosecutors refused to cooperate with Brazil authorities, delaying any clarification. These high-profile cases revealed the inability of the Mexican justice system to effectively deal with corruption, especially if the perpetrators are politically well connected.

At the same time that corruption scandals roiled the political arena, efforts to implement the National Anti-Corruption System (SNA), which had been signed into law by President Nieto in 2016, floundered. Neither the special anti-corruption prosecutor nor the judges for the specialized administrative tribunal have been appointed. At the subnational level, not even half of Mexico’s states have approved the required secondary legislation to implement the SNA. According to a May 2017 study by Corparmex, the Mexican confederation of business owners, corruption costs Mexico around 10% of its GDP. In Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Mexico ranked 135 out of 175 countries in 2017, a significantly deterioration in the country’s ranking compared to 2012.

The main positive development with regard to corruption is sustained pressure from civil society for more transparency and accountability, but in general there is little hope for quick change.

Citations:
Latin American Regional Report: Mexico & Nafta (August 2017) “Anti-corruption reform fails to convince.”
The Guardian (September 27, 2018). “Mexico: ‘worst governor in history’ sentenced to nine years for corruption, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/27/javier-duarte-mexico-veracruz-guilty-sentenced-corruption
AP (October 11, 2018). “Brazil: Mexico dragging feet on Odebrecht corruption scandal,” https://apnews.com/829969cee5a14aa8962f247a15bd774c.
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