Tag Archives: Mexico City


By Luis Rubio*

The achievement of stability and high growth rates after the revolutionary era was nearly miraculous and contrasted with the interminable South American dictatorships. Everything suggested that Mexico had procured a successful and permanent formula. It worked until it ran out.
But what is significant –and what was of virtue- of that era was the fact that the diverse components of the clockwork that made it work in general were in sync. The economic autarchy coupled with the authoritarian political system and the structure of vertical controls that was a key component of the PRIist system to keep the state governors in line. The scheme responded to the reality of the moment in which it was constructed –the post-revolutionary epoch, and, above all, the post-War era- and permitted the country to progress.
Of course, the fact that there was progress in some ambits did not imply that the system was free of contradictions. When these made themselves heard, the system responded: this was how it acted with (annulled) independent presidential candidacies when these presented and how it repressed guerilla movements and, towards the end of the era, the student movement. The preference was always cooption and that ever-so-PRIist tactic: subject the dissent to the general corruption of the system under the aegis that there is no greater loyalty than that springing from complicity.
The problems began when the contradictions stopped being minor and the traditional response no longer solved the problems. For example, without recognizing that it was a structural problem emanating from the evaporation of    monies to finance imports, President  Echeverría responded to the (very mild) recession of 1971 with a sudden and massive increase in public expenditure, breaking with all of the fiscal equilibria known until then. Fiddling with it “just a little” ended up undermining the old stability, destroying the confidence of the population and positioning the country on the threshold of hyperinflation.
The equilibria now broken, attempts at a solution eventually began, all of these conceived to preserve the essence of the PRIist system but in turn supplying the economy with oxygen: a flagrant contradiction, but logical within its context. Russell Ackoff, a U.S. thinker, wrote that “there are four ways of treating a problemabsolution, resolution, solution and dissolution and the greatest of these is dissolution”. Of all these, says Ackoff, only dissolution allows eliminating the problem because it entails the redesign of the context within which it arose. That is, what Mexico required (and requires) was an integral transformation similar to that which today’s successful nations experienced –each on its own terms- such as Korea, Chile and, before the euro, Spain and Ireland. 
What in fact was done was to attempt to respond to the problems by seeing to their most evident manifestations and trusting that those would disappear (“absolve” in Ackoff’s terminology). That is how it went through diverse political reforms as well as with partial and fragmentary economic liberalization. It was not that there was bad faith; rather, the ultimate objective resided in the preservation of the essence of the political system and its beneficiaries. Viewed from this perspective, the most emblematic of the electoral reforms (1996) was nothing other than going from a one-party system to a three-party structure, and not to full democracy. The expanded regime extended the benefits to new participants and created a scheme of competition that did not alter the essence of the old system, but only “democratized” it.
What it did not solve were the contradictions. One by one, these have come to wage an attack on occasion in creative, but always limited, ways. In one epoch the support was procured of “men-institutions”, responsible persons who understood what hung in the balance and who took care that the equilibria were not shattered (and there were –and there are- many more of these figures than one might imagine); in another epoch “autonomous” and “citizen” entities were constructed under the notion that the members of their boards would not lend themselves to shady dealings and that they would guarantee the seriousness and reliability of their actions in electoral matters, on issues of economic regulation and, most recently, in matters of energy. I do not dispute the logic, convenience or potential of this type of response, but it is evident that they have not been sufficient for solving problems that can only be solved with a much more polished transformative vision. They work while they work and then they begin to be costly. In any case, they depend on the individual person.
The elections are nearly upon us, the candidates and parties attack and counterattack each other but, save for exceptional cases, these do not offer attractive alternatives. In the case of the governorships, who end up being proprietors of the lives and souls of their entities, the difference between a good one and a poor one is absolute and that’s why the elections are so hair-raising. The majority only want to get rich or utilize each post as a stepping stone to reach the next one. As an old politician once told me, “some do their job but the majority devote themselves to constructing the next one”.
That’s what Mexicans have got to work with. In Miguel Hidalgo, in the Federal District, a peculiar case is unfolding: a rough-spoken but effective candidate, as only she can be, and without any ambition for another job, contending for the opportunity to govern the local government (which de facto finances the entire Federal District) but that has been badly managed and misgoverned for decades. Xóchitl Gálvez gets my vote because she is a straight-arrow person who is devoted to what she does and who does what has to be done.

* Global Fellow and Member of the Advisory Board of the Mexico Institute at the WWICS and President of the Center of Research for Development (CIDAC).



The electoral battle for Mexico City

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Mexico City is home to more than 9 million people. However, the daily metropolitan area movements reach 29 million people. In addition to this, the city is the seat to the three branches, as well as very prominent private companies. Therefore, population density and political resonance are some conditions that make Mexico City politically attractive. In fact, governing the city can boost political aspirations of the mayors. This has occurred since 1997, when the inhabitants of Mexico City had the opportunity for the first time to choose their authorities – before this, both the delegation chiefs (figure similar to the municipalities) and the Mayor were elected by the President. This was true with Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the first Mayor of Mexico City and former presidential candidate in 2000 for the third time; with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, former presidential candidate in 2006 and in 2012; and with Marcelo Ebrard, who ran to be the presidential candidate in 2012, but lost against López Obrador in the primary elections.

While the contemporary history of Mexico City should be told predominantly from the left, as it has been the bastion of these political forces for 18 years, the fragmentation of the left parties and the growing competition from traditional parties, such as the PRI and the PAN, make this 2015 election crucial to determine the political future of the capital. Here, we present an analysis of the conditions at play and some of its most important players.

While previous mayors, like the current mayor Miguel Mancera, were chosen by alliances led by the PRD, the story today is very different. Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the historic leader of the party, resigned his membership this year. Andrés Manuel López Obrador is currently the main leader of the new party MORENA, which encompasses, among other characters, former close aides who worked with him during his term in Mexico City’s office. Marcelo Ebrard sought a place as Federal Deputy in these elections but by Citizens’ Movement (MC), a previously close ally of the PRD. In fact, electoral authorities determined his ineligibility for quitting the PRD just before enrolling in the other party. Thus, the division of the left becomes more evident in Mexico City leadership.

The bottom line is that the competition between the PRD and MORENA will potentially be close in some areas of the city. Most of the PRD candidates have been chosen from local leaderships and closeness to Miguel Mancera’s administration and PRD national leadership. On the other hand, MORENA candidates are basically national-level figures, such as former state governors and people close to the López Obrador political group. Thus, although the PRD currently governs 14 of the 16 delegations (see map), it is expected to have strong competition in very important places such as Iztapalapa and Cuauhtémoc.

Historically, the PAN and the PRI have had little presence in Mexico City. The PAN currently rules the Benito Juárez delegation, which has been its political bastion in the city for the last several years, and the PRI rules the Cuajimalpa delegation. In the case of the PAN, some important figures are also competing for delegations such as Miguel Hidalgo, and the party aspires to govern more delegations as they did in the midterm elections of 2009 (see map). For its part, the PRI Cuajimalpa aspires to preserve and perhaps strengthen its presence in other areas of the capital. Just a couple of weeks ago, Cuajimalpa recorded a violent confrontation between supporters of the PRI and PRD, which ended with a non-aggression pact between state party leaders.


In summary, these 2015 elections for Mexico City will measure the strength of different leaderships and parties on the left that will lay out the competition towards the 2018 Presidential Election. At the same time, electoral competition between the PRD and MORENA will be close in some areas of the capital.This is especially important as this is the first election for the latter party. Finally, this increasing competition and its immediate consequence of split voting could help the PRI and the PAN to gain positions. Finally, this electoral battle in Mexico City comes at a crucial time when Congress is discussing the creation of a new Constituent Congress to give Mexico City a constitution and character as a federal entity, which would affect the checks and balances that the city has historically had (see our latest Op-Ed on the topic).

Visit here for more information on this election.
Visit here for information regarding political parties in Mexico.

A new Constitution?

Verónica OrtizBy Verónica Ortiz O.^

Before concluding its ordinary sessions, the Senate approved the so called historic reform for the capital city to be officially called Mexico City (it is currently the Federal District) and to be given a brand new Constitution as an independent state of the Mexican Republic.

A long time project of the left to ensure control over their political bastion, and one of the Pacto por Mexico´s pending issues, the text now turned to the House of Representatives for discussion and approval has risen more concern than support. Conceptual consistency would be one for starters. The terms of “state”, “federal entity” and “Mexico City” are intermittently used, adding to confusion on the pretended legal status and capacities of the capital city.

But most importantly, specialists have drawn attention to the procedure foreseen for the creation of the new Constitution, through a legislative assembly to be crafted for the task.

A 100 notable´s group, where 60 members would be publicly elected, and the rest designated by the Senate (14), the lower House (14), the President (6) and the city´s Mayor (6).

The problem is the legitimacy of such assembly and the quality of the product given the predictable battles to gain political control over it. As distinguished Italian scholar Giovanni Sartori pointed out in an interview with Mexican academic Jorge Islas(*), writing a new Constitution is no easy task and it is likely to become a complete disaster since constitutional assemblies are not appropriately suited for the job.

In Sartori´s opinion, this is a mistake made in recent times, whereas old Constitutions were drafted by specialists and then submitted to parliamentary approval or referendum.

The question remains as it is uncertain that the pressing issues and conflicts Mexico City faces (namely insecurity, informal economy, corruption, etc.) will be better addressed with a change of name and a new Constitution. That is, if the potential benefits for the capital´s citizens outweigh the costly implementation of this political reform.

For the moment, Congress is in recess and, if no extraordinary sessions are summoned, will resume activities on September 1st after the midterm elections that will renew the House of Representatives. The new composition of the lower Chamber will give a hint on whether or not this reform will ever see the light.


(*) “Considerations over democracy in Mexico”. Complete interview (in Spanish) can be viewed in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UtrlQx4RTw

^ Lawyer and political analyst. Journalist in the newspaper El Economista and TV presenter in Canal del Congreso and AprendeTV in Mexico.


Former Mexico City Mayor to Appeal Court Ruling Barring Candidacy

By Latin American Herald Tribune 05/02/15

MEXICO CITY – Former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard will appeal a court ruling barring his candidacy for a seat in Mexico’s lower house of Congress, claiming that President Enrique Peña Nieto was behind the decision.

“The main promoter of this is named Enrique Peña Nieto,” Ebrard, who governed Mexico City from 2006 to 2012, said in a press conference Thursday, asking rhetorically whether “we’re going to allow the president to decide who can be a candidate and who cannot.”

Four of five TEPJF electoral-court justices found on Wednesday that Ebrard had simultaneously participated in the candidate-selection process of two different left-wing parties: the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, and Citizens’ Movement.

Ebrard, however, argued in the case that he only registered for the PRD’s internal process, while in the case of Citizens’ Movement he was invited to be a candidate but did not participate in the different candidate-selection stages.

He said he will appeal the case to the Supreme Court if necessary.

“This is yet another thing coming from the (ruling) Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and I’m not making this up. Everybody knows,” the former mayor said.

The idea is “keep me out of the Chamber of Deputies” because Peña Nieto and the PRI do not want me there, Ebrard said, adding that “they know I have the popular support to win and question them.”

The presiding judge in the case, Pedro Penagos, said the General Law on Electoral Institutions and Procedures clearly states that no candidate may seek a candidacy for two different parties unless the two political groupings are part of the same coalition.

On Feb. 22, the PRD left Ebrard off its proportional representation list for this year’s lower-house elections. Five days later, on Feb. 27, the former Mexico City mayor said he was leaving the party because it had moved too close to the PRI.

That same day, media reports said Ebrard had been confirmed as a lower-house candidate representing Citizens’ Movement.

Mexico is holding its midterm elections on June 7, with 500 seats in Congress, nine governorships and 1,532 local offices up for grabs.

Mexico City’s mayor to seek presidency

By La Prensa, 04/12/15

The Challenge of Governance: Lessons from Mexico City - A Conversation with Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera

Mexico City, Apr 12 (EFE).- Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera, a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, plans to run for president in the 2018 elections, PRD chairman Carlos Navarrete said.

The 49-year-old Mancera is prominent in the progressive wing of the PRD and his background makes him a “natural” potential nominee for the party, Navarrete said in an interview with Grupo Milenio.

“Miguel Mancera is firmly with the PRD, is doing a good job running the government in the DF (Federal District) and is active in this great progressive movement, this leftist force. He’ll surely be a natural shortlisted candidate (for the presidency), but we’ll confirm that in June,” the PRD chairman said.

The party plans to reveal the first potential candidates for the 2018 presidential election in June, Navarrete said.

“We’re not going to take a lot of time in putting some names out there that are preparing for 2018. (Mancera) is the first one we are going to put out there, but there may be others,” the PRD chairman said.

Mexico will be governed by a progressive party after 2018 because “the time has come for an alternative,” Navarrete said.

The main challenge for the left is to develop a unified vision for the 2018 general elections, Navarrete said.

Mexico is holding its midterm elections on June 7, with 500 seats in Congress, nine governorships and 1,532 local offices up for grabs.

For more information, watch this webcast from our event with Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera, “The Challenge of Governance: Lessons from Mexico City.”

Visit other posts on this year elections in Mexico City here.

Mexico City: Mancera, MORENA, and the PRD

The Challenge of Governance: Lessons from Mexico City - A Conversation with Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Around 23 million people live in the Metropolitan Area of Mexico, which encompasses municipalities from Estado de México and Hidalgo. Of these 23 million people, almost 9 million live in Mexico City. In this election, all of the municipalities (or delegaciones) and the local legislature will be renewed.

Miguel Mancera, the Mayor of Mexico City, was elected in 2012 and enters the midterm election with high levels of disapproval, according to the latest Reforma survey. However, numbers show that his popularity increased 8 points during the last 4 months. As shown in the chart below, Mancera’s highest approval rates, from both leaders and civil society, come from the way he handles cultural issues. On the other hand, his lowest approval rates surround the way he deals with issues related to informal street trading and corruption, from leaders and civil society respectively.

Given this context, Reforma’s latest poll on electoral preferences in Mexico City registers a significant competition between MORENA and the PRD for the state legislature, whereas the PRD still has the lead in preferences for municipalities.

For the state legislature, MORENA and the PRD have an effective vote preference of 24%, followed by the PRI with 15%, PAN with 11%, ES with 6%, PVEM with 5%, PH with 4%, PANAL with 3%, PT and MC with 2% and 4% for independent candidates.

Furthermore, for Federal Deputies in Mexico City, the electoral preferences are still led by the PRD with 24%, followed by MORENA with 20% (you can see the original figures in the Reforma Surveys Blog).

In conclusion, it is yet be seen if the competition will become tighter between PRD and MORENA, or if the former will have the political ability to remain the dominant political force in Mexico City.

For more information, watch this webcast from our event with Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera, “The Challenge of Governance: Lessons from Mexico City.”