Mexico

   

Executive Capacity

#27
Key Findings
Despite its strong presidential system, Mexico falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 27) in the area of executive capacity. Its score has fallen by 0.8 points relative to its 2014 level.

President López Obrador (AMLO) has an extraordinary level of legitimacy and popularity. Strategic planning and key policy proposals have come from the presidential office rather than from external units or line ministries. This office is staffed with appointees that have the capacity to assess line ministry proposals, and is responsible for interministerial coordination.

RIAs are common and of generally high quality, with the agency responsible recently having received a broader mandate. Ex post evaluations are common. AMLO has personally handled most public communication, eliminating contradictions in government communication. Public consultation has shifted away from traditional business and trade union groups toward the broader civil society.

The new government has a highly ambitious reform agenda, with its first steps promising. Monitoring and controlling the state-owned oil company, the police and military have proved challenging. Insufficient funding, corruption and inefficiency inhibit regulation enforcement and the development of national standards. AMLO has focused almost wholly on domestic priorities, refusing to travel abroad.

Strategic Capacity

#8

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
7
The Mexican president is required by law to produce a strategic plan in his first year in office. At a lower level, there are quite a few planning units within the Mexican government, though they do not all have decisive input in the policymaking process. Longer-term, Mexico has committed itself to the SDGs and created a specialized technical committee involving 25 federal agencies, which will collect the statistical information required to monitor progress.

Strategic planning was most prominent in the 1960s, 70s and 80s; in the latter decade no fewer than three former planning ministers moved up to the presidency of Mexico. In more general terms, a “passion for planning” stems from the origins of the Institutional Revolutionary Party regime and its corporatist structures within a mixed economy. Mainly as a consequence of market-oriented reforms, the role of planning entities has declined since the late 1980s. This was partly the result of Mexico becoming an export-oriented economy, but also because planning itself was a failure during this period, with Mexico too bound to international economic trends to successfully implement planning decisions.

Planning has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. The major challenge to planning in Mexico, and Latin America more generally, consists in creating sufficiently tight links between the agencies responsible for planning, the implementing agencies and powerful interest groups. The implementation of several highly significant recent reforms have put Mexico’s planning skills to the test. This includes the implementation of anti-corruption laws and reforms in the social sector, education reform as well as in energy and telecommunications.

The current Mexican president has an extraordinarily high level of legitimacy. Elected by more than 53% of Mexicans, with a majority in Congress and high approval rates (67% in November 2019), he has initiated a wide-ranging transformation of Mexico. First, he repealed several reforms of the former government, such as the education reform. Second, he stopped infrastructure projects, like the new Mexico City Texcoco Airport. In addition, AMLO has created new social programs and announced plans to revive the Mexican oil industry. He has also pledged to demilitarize the war on drugs, a strategy which has so far failed. The strategic planning involved in these announcements has been concentrated in the presidency, less in strategic planning units and bodies.

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
7
In the Mexican political system, barriers between the government and scholars are comparatively low. It is quite common for a cabinet to include recruits from academia, and there are also substantial informal contacts between academics and high-level public officials. By the same token, former government officials often teach at universities.

The current Mexican government is keen to strengthen relationships with experts and activists from civil society, rather than economists and international professionals. In contrast to former governments, consultations with civil society actors and citizens enjoy high priority. Whether this results in better advice and/or improved legitimacy remains to be seen.

Interministerial Coordination

#24

Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills according to the government’s priorities?

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
8
The presidential office offers positions of high prestige in Mexico. It is involved with the legislative process to a decisive degree. Due to the absence of a high-level career civil service, both the cabinet and the presidential office are staffed with presidential appointments, which generally have the capacity to assess proposals from line ministries. Nevertheless, the independence of figures within the executive is thus questionable since everyone of influence in the presidential office is a political appointee.

Holding a majority in Congress and benefiting from a high degree of public legitimacy the initiatives of the president and MORENA are highly likely to be implemented.

To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
7
Given Mexico’s presidential system, cabinet ministers are respectful of and even deferential to the presidential office. Moreover, cabinet ministers dismissed by the president after disagreements rarely find a way back into high-level politics, which tends to promote loyalty to the president and presidential staff. Accordingly, senior figures in the presidential office are very powerful, because they determine access to the president and can influence ministerial careers. At present, President López Obrador dominates Mexican politics, perhaps more the his predecessor.

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
6
Mexico is unusual, because the constitution does not recognize the cabinet as a collective body. Instead, Mexico has four sub cabinets, respectively dealing with economic, social, political and security matters. As a result, Mexico in practice has a system of cabinet committees each of them normally chaired by the president. The full cabinet never or hardly ever meets. Mexico’s cabinet, as a collective, matters less than in most countries. The cabinet is not a supreme executive body as it is in, say, Britain. For one thing, there are a number of heads of executive agencies, with cabinet rank, who are not directly subject to a minister. There is a trend of governments to increase this process, partially out of the logic of depoliticizing and cementing programmatic decisions and views in social and economic policy fields. Under the current administration, cabinet reshuffles have frequently taken place, often in response to unpopular policy outcomes or political pressure. The central political figure has been and is the president.

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
5
Traditionally, there was little real distinction in Mexico between civil servants and politicians, though the relationship between them has significantly varied over time. The upper administration overly consists of presidential appointments, with only a limited number of career bureaucrats. Two exceptions are the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where bureaucratic expertise has always played a major role. The cabinet today is much more heterogeneous, however, with some figures personally close to the president and others more independent. The politicization of the cabinet, which has increased under the three recent administrations, is constraining its ability to coordinate policy proposals given the centrifugal tendencies. On the other hand, the previously mentioned independent agencies are often characterized by higher levels of bureaucratic professionalism.

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
5
A number of informal mechanisms for coordinating policy exist, and given the lack of “formal” coordination capabilities within the Mexican administration, informal coordination often functions as a substitute. This is normal in a presidential system where only a few cabinet secretaries have independent political bases. Ministers retain their positions, for the most part, at the will of the president. It is important to note, however, that some cabinet secretaries are more equal than others. Since his election, President López Obrador has dominated Mexican politics, with interministerial coordination in the hands of the presidency.

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
6
The Mexican government has adopted a National Digital Strategy and established a Change Management Plan in order to guide agencies in the development of projects. Furthermore, the Executive Council Interministerial Commission for e-Government Development (Comison Intersecretarial para el Desarrollo del Gobierno Electronico, CIDGE) has ensured the technical and operational coordination necessary to implement the strategy.
In July 2018, Mexico launched an online platform to track progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. President López Obrador has announced plans to create a public internet company, which will enable people in the most remote areas of the country to access the internet. Though this proposal is unlikely to be carried out in the near future.

However, as often in Mexico, implementation of digitalization is falling behind schedule, especially on the subnational level. This reflects the heterogeneity of digitalization within the broader Mexican society.

Citations:
SDG 2018. Mexico’s SDG Portal Brings Functionality to Reporting. http://sdg.iisd.org/news/mexicos-sdg-portal-brings-functionality-to-reporting/

OECD Digital Government Studies Digital Government in Mexico Sustainable and Inclusive Transformation: Sustainable and Inclusive Transformation, OECD 2020.

Evidence-based Instruments

#12

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
8
Regulatory impact assessment (RIA) was introduced in Mexico in 1997. In 2000, RIA was implemented broadly through reform of the Federal Administrative Procedure Law. Thus, RIA in Mexico is established by law, and not by presidential or prime ministerial degree as in some other OECD countries.

In May 2018, the new General Law of Better Regulation was issued. A government agency, the Federal Commission for Regulatory Improvement (Comisión Federal de Mejora Regulatoria, COFEMER), is responsible for performing impact assessments on new proposals if they generate compliance costs. With the new law, COFEMER’s mandate was broadened and the agency renamed the Comisión Nacional de Mejora Regulatoria (CONAMER). CONAMER assesses existing regulations. The law requires Mexico’s 32 states to adopt RIAs for subnational regulatory projects and there are efforts to expand this further. Overall, RIA could be strengthened by involving stakeholders early on in the process.

Beyond RIA, evidence-based evaluations of several Mexican public policies in the social sector have gained international recognition and have had significant spillover effects to the international evaluation community. This is especially true for social policies, where rigorous impact assessments based on experimental and quasi-experimental analyses of education, health, and nutrition programs (Programa de Educación, Salud y Alimentación, PROGRESA) can be perceived as an international showcase on how to evaluate large-scale social programs. In this area, the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) is responsible for carrying out rigorous impact evaluations in large social-sector programs. CONEVAL is an autonomous agency created by the 2007 General Law on Social Development (Ley General de Desarrollo Social).

Citations:
Reyes, R et al (2015). Regulatory Impact Assessment in Mexico: A Story of Interest Groups Pressure. Law and Development Review 8, 1: 99-122.

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
7
RIA was introduced in Mexico in 1997 and its usage has spread from the federal government to some state governments. It has established itself as a legitimate part of the policymaking process. The relevant government agency, CONAMER (and its predecessor, COFEMER), is responsible to an interdepartmental committee that ultimately reports to the Ministry of Economy. CONAMER does not have a veto on new proposals, but it must be consulted and can express an opinion. Its position vis-à-vis the ministries was strengthened by the new law on regulation in 2018. It can prevent new regulations from coming into force until the consultation process is complete. CONAMER has also been active in negotiating the streamlining of procedures with individual Mexican states. This is significant, as much regulation is generated at subnational levels. After a quiet start, COFEMER/CONAMER has played a significant role in Mexico’s pro-competitive policy. Its annual reports are publicly available and provide critical assessments on regulatory projects. While input and output are clearly visible, the outcome of the RIA process cannot be assessed so far.

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
6
So far, RIAs have often highlighted international benchmarking to reinforce their investigations. As one example, in a recent development, the Mexican government signaled its intention to become a world leader in sustainable tourism. Here, sustainability relates to energy efficiency, improved environmental performance and the protection of cultural heritage. The government partnered with the private firm EC3 Global to support the adoption of their trademark EarthCheck science and solutions for tourism operators and companies committed to sustainable practices and to align their performance with global benchmarks, endorsed by the World Tourism Organization. EarthCheck is an internationally recognized environmental management and certification program with more than 1,300 members in 70 countries. The program improves the operational performance of member organizations and reduces costs. However, like in most other OECD countries, RIAs in Mexico have up to now not fully embraced a multidimensional sustainability perspective as is foreseen by the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. This is a particular challenge against the backdrop of the United Nation’s Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals), which were supported by Mexico and require a multidimensional perspective – including social, economic and ecological dimensions – in public policymaking. However, Mexican government elites at the national level often still appear more likely to be aware of the SDGs than government elites in other OECD countries, which might lead to an improvement in the coming years.

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
6
Overall, Mexican policies are supposed to subjected to ex post evaluation and, at least at the national level, a comparatively strong culture of ex post evaluation has grown over the last two decades. This phenomenon is rooted in two different ideological streams. On the one hand, the traditional planning euphoria from a left-leaning, corporatist system has embraced the idea of ex post evaluation as an integral part of a well-mastered policy cycle. On the other hand, market liberal reforms and the influence of international finance organizations have introduced forms of new public management, with rigorous ex post evaluation seen as a crucial way to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of public policies.

Since 2012, mandatory guidelines require the use of ex post evaluations. As a consequence, Mexico has established one of the most developed evaluation policies in the field of social policy, which is executed by a constitutionally anchored evaluation agency, CONEVAL. Created in 2014, CONEVAL is established as an autonomous constitutional organization with a very high level of technical and management autonomy. Its task is to coordinate and manage the ex post evaluation of national social policies, and it does so with a very high level of sophistication. It is consists of the head of the Ministry of Social Development, six well-known academics chosen by the National Social Development Commission and an Executive Secretary who is in charge of the council. In the international realm, CONEVAL has been an institutional innovation in poverty measurement and the evaluation of social public policies. So far, the independent provision of scientifically based evaluations has had a substantial impact on technically improving social policy programs in Mexico.

While CONEVAL represented a substantial move forward in the evaluation of social policies, a major setback occurred in mid-2019 when the head of CONEVAL was replaced after having criticized cuts to the agency’s budget. Given his prior critiques on the governments’ austerity policies, the replacement was perceived as a serious blow to the agency’s independence. It remains to be seen whether CONEVAL will continue to act as a critical but constructive evaluation agency.

Beyond the field of social policy, however, other policy fields are subjected to far less scientific ex post evaluations and, at the subnational level, much more remains to be done. However, the ongoing presence of many organizations of international development cooperation in Mexico as well as promising dynamics at the subnational level is favorable to the development of an evaluation-friendly environment.

Societal Consultation

#19

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
6
With a high degree of legitimacy following the presidential election, President López Obrador announced more possibilities for public consultation. Popular consultation was undertaken for the planned new airport as well as for infrastructure projects in the south. In addition, the president’s daily press conference is intended to “consult” the public. The new government is trying to integrate civil society actors and activists, although traditional business and trade union lobby groups remain outside. This is a clear break with the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s tradition of corporatism and clientelism, where participation has flowed mainly through corporatist and clientelist party channels rather than through independent civil society organizations.

Some participatory involvement occurs at the local and state level, in the form of experiments with participatory budgeting, roundtables with stakeholder consultation and so on. While these types of consultation processes are not as strong as in other Latin American countries, they have become more common in Mexico. Whether this results in a significant change in policymaking style remains to be seen.

Policy Communication

#10

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
7
The communication performance of the current administration is based on the communication skills of the new president. As a populist, AMLO relies heavily on public communication. The daily press conferences at 7 a.m. are not addressed to the press, but are rather a means of directly communicating with the public. So far, no other politician or ministry has engaged in strategic communication, and major contradictions in government communications have not occurred.

Implementation

#35

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
4
The new president, López Obrador, has announced a highly ambitious reform agenda, aimed at transforming Mexico socially, economically and politically. New social programs are being implemented and projects targeting the poor south have been announced, while infrastructure projects like the Mexico City Texcoco Airport have stalled. Tackling corruption and demilitarizing the war on drugs are key targets for the government. The government’s reform agenda is so ambitious that it will be very difficult to achieve.

Nevertheless, the government’s first social and anti-corruption policy steps seem promising. Though the aim of demilitarizing the war on drugs has so far failed.

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
8
Whatever problems there may be with the Mexican system, it does deal effectively with the so-called agency problem, cabinet secretaries mostly have a strong incentive to avoid incurring presidential displeasure. The center of the Mexican government defines whole-of-government strategic priorities and has a unit in charge of tracking progress on the implementation of policy priorities.

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
7
The presidential office can choose who it monitors and how. There are two caveats to this statement, however. First, Mexico is a federal system, and there are thus strong limits to the central government’s power as many competencies fall, at least partially, to the states or even the local level. Second, independent agencies headed by individuals of cabinet rank have taken on an expanding role during the last two decades. Yet where the central authority has power, it uses it. In many instances, inadequate implementation is due to structural problems of capacity or a lack of political will, rather than insufficient monitoring.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
5
The process of monitoring tends to work better at the national level than at the subnational level, where the general process of accountability is more heterogeneously developed. Monitoring is considerable at particular times and places, but limited otherwise. Moreover, monitoring is selective due to uneven state capacity, which hampers greater coverage. Essentially, the commitment to monitoring depends on political constellations. Ministries can scrutinize bureaucratic agencies if they want to, but there are good reasons why they do not always do so. Decentralized agencies often try to exercise autonomy by going over the top of the governing secretariat and contacting the president directly. Monitoring and controlling Pemex, the police and the military has been one of the biggest coordination challenges for the new president during his first year in office.

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
5
Mexico has three levels of government – central, state and municipal. In Mexican federalism, state governments are politically and economically more powerful than municipalities. The state governors’ association is a powerful lobby group that bargains effectively with the central government. In general terms, Mexico’s intergovernmental transfer system must reduce vertical imbalances and discretionary federal transfers. The latter are distributed from the center across states with political, rather than policy goals in mind and constitute a substantial share of government spending. Moreover, Mexican states need to increase their own revenues in order to become less dependent on central government transfers.

Due to government austerity, which has been a central issue of the AMLO administration, underfunded mandates and insufficient resources are a challenge for the successful completion of many government tasks and undermine the realization of the principle of subsidiarity in Mexico’s fiscal federalism.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
6
The Mexican constitution gives subnational entities, in particular states, considerable opportunity to influence policy. However, fiscal federalism in Mexico still relies heavily on transfers and thus gives the central government considerable leverage over states. The economic heterogeneity of states is so substantial that there is a need for a solidarity-oriented transfer system. In other words, fiscal federalism in Mexico cannot rely on the principle of market-based federalism with its focus on competition among subnational entities.

The current system is not in equilibrium between solidarity and market-based federalism. The federal government formally has substantial leverage over states, the federal government has generally refrained from reining in the illiberal practices of local elites. Considerable administrative capacity deficits therefore persist at the subnational level.

Citations:
Diaz-Cayeros, Alberto, Fiscal Federalism and Redistribution in Mexico (December 16, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2886703

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
3
Insufficient funding, corruption and inefficiency inhibit the effective implementation of nationwide public policy standards in many sectors.

Citations:
Latin American Regional Report: Mexico & NAFTA (November 2017) “Solving higher education conundrum key to 2018 election success?.”

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
4
Insufficient funding, corruption and inefficiency inhibit effective regulation in many sectors. Additionally, fragmented responsibilities due to deficiencies in the federal Mexican system are prevalent. Vested interests often manage to block reforms or policy implementation. It remains to be seen whether the new government with its populist approach and its stronger relations to NGOs will be capable of overcoming traditional vested interest barriers.

Adaptability

#37

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
6
The Mexican governing elite have traditionally been very interested in adopting international standards and had a high degree of contact with international organizations and policy institutes. The major motivation for this is that multilateralism has always provided a strategic avenue for counterbalancing the country’s dependence on its northern neighbor. Moreover, many members of the policy elite have studied and/or worked abroad, mostly in English-speaking countries and sometimes in those international organizations that promote international norms. Mexico’s presidential system, with its directing authority at the center of the administration, also allows the country to make swift changes. However, while adaptability of the Mexican government is comparatively high in formal terms, implementation of new approaches and policies is much weaker, particularly when it involves subnational entities, heavily unionized sectors or counters economic interests in society. In this regard, one of the most challenging tasks for the Mexican government is currently to transfer the ambitious U.N. Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) agenda into domestic policies, adapting them to national priorities. Progress, thus far, seems to be slow. While formulating action plans and monitoring strategies at the national level faces little or no capacity barriers, the implementation and mainstreaming of policies at the local and regional level will be the major challenge. In addition, while Mexico has signaled commitment to human rights in international arenas, within the country the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law remain low. The current government, despite a tradition of paying attention to international initiatives, is rather inward looking because of increasing domestic challenges.

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
3
The Mexican government has almost completely lost its international reputation. In his first year in office, AMLO has not left Mexico. He refused to participate in G20 meetings or U.N. assemblies. In an attempt to demonstrate to the Mexican population his commitment to domestic issues, this has undermined Mexico’s position in the world.

Mexico has traditionally been supportive of international initiatives, and played an active role in the United Nations, OECD and other intergovernmental organizations. It also was an enthusiastic participant in multilateral organizations, including international financial organizations such as the World Bank, the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank. Numerous policy and organizational recommendations made by international bodies have been adopted in the Mexican policymaking process. Thus, it had a supportive role in many international attempts oriented toward the provision of global public goods. Whether this engagement will be revived again has to be seen.

Organizational Reform

#23

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
6
Historically, Mexico has often found ways of dealing with the so-called agency problem in policy implementation, which explains why institutional arrangements need constant monitoring. Traditionally this agency problem was dealt with by a high degree of corporatist authoritarianism, which came at a high cost for controlling agents. In today’s Mexico, democracy – even if sometimes insufficiently implemented – requires new models of overcoming this agency problem in an increasingly diversified and complex state structure. Particularly policymakers at the central level and in the more advanced states are becoming aware that effectively governing complexity requires different principles, including monitoring institutional governance arrangements. In July 2018, Mexico launched an online platform to track progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Yet, especially at the subnational level, pockets of authoritarianism, weak state capacity and widespread corruption result in uneven capacity for monitoring institutional arrangements and regulatory reforms. At the top of the political pyramid, the quality of self-monitoring still depends much on the personal engagement of the president. Mexican policymakers have tended to engage quite frequently in administrative reorganization, possibly to excess. President Peña Nieto was an ambitious, and perhaps excessive, but largely unsuccessful reformer. President López Obrador is even more ambitious and is attempting to radically transform Mexico. AMLO’s new social programs and plans to revive the Mexican oil industry are intended to transform Mexico’s socioeconomic structure. In addition, he wants to demilitarize the war on drugs, a strategy which so far failed. The very ambitious plans enjoy high support within the Mexican population. After one year in office, AMLO’s approval ratings are very high. In November 2019, more than 67% of Mexicans supported AMLO.

Citations:
SDG 2018. Mexico’s SDG Portal Brings Functionality to Reporting. http://sdg.iisd.org/news/mexicos-sdg-portal-brings-functionality-to-reporting/

To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
5
While Mexican policy elites are often receptive to new ideas and open to administrative reform, many of these reforms remain unimplemented and are abandoned before they can take root. This is especially true with regard to domestic security and law enforcement. Too often, the re-drawing of organizational diagrams has taken precedence over the implementation of desperately needed, but difficult structural reforms to strengthen the rule of law. Moreover, the most important challenge currently consists of improving the effectiveness of existing institutions.

The current Mexican president has an extraordinarily high level of legitimacy. Elected by more than 53% of Mexicans, with a majority in Congress and a high approval rating (67% in November 2019), he has initiated a transformation of Mexico. However, AMLO’s first year in office has not been characterized by sustainable institutionalization, but rather by populist, anti-institutionalist approaches, with the judiciary under particular pressure.
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