's system of government
is - at least on paper
- fairly similar to that of the United States
. The Mexican Constitution
, adopted in 1917, sets up three separate
, independent branch
es of government - the executive
led by the President
; the bicameral legislature
; and the judiciary
The President of Mexico is the chief executive, head of government, and head of state of Mexico. He is directly elected to a six-year term. The president appoints a cabinet, the attorney general, the leadership of the military, and judges of federal courts. The president has the power to propose constitutional amendments, which must be aprroved by two-thirds of the Congress and a majority of state legislatures. The president is constitutionally prohibited from being elected to successive terms. This is designed, much like the United States' 22nd Amendment, to prevent the possibility of a popular leader becoming dictatorial through continual reelection (in practice, this means the president often just gets swapped out every six years by the same party). While he cannot remain in office indefinitely, the president of Mexico has rather broad powers, as shall be seen.
The legislature of Mexico, the Congress, is a bicameral body composed of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. The Senate has 64 members, two from each of the 31 Mexican states and two from the Federal District (which includes Mexico City). Senators have six-year terms; elections are staggered with half the seats elected at the time of the presidential election and half at a mid-term election three years later. The Chanber of Deputies has 500 members elected to three-year terms; they are not eligible for reelection. 300 of the deputies are directly elected from districts of around 200000 people; the other 200 are filled from the ranks of the various political parties based on the percentage of the total vote each receives in the national election. This proportional representation system was added in 1963 in order to promote the continued existence of opposition parties. Each registered party that gets a minimum of 2.5% of the vote is entitled to a seat in the Chamber of Deputies for every 0.5% it received, to a maximum of 20 seats. Congress meets from September 1 to December 31 each year. When it is not in session, a pemanent committee of 15 deputies and 14 senators serves to approve presidential actions. Because of their short sessions and term limitations, the Mexican Congress has far less power in governing than the United States Congress.
The Mexican judicial system is very similar to that of the United States. The judiciary is appointed by the political leadership but independent. The judiciary has the power of judicial review. There is a federal system of courts and a state system of courts, and each has its separate jurisdiction. At the top of the federal court system is the Mexican Supreme Court; below that are the circuit courts and below that are federal district courts. These courts have the power to judge cases that deal with federal law. Each state court system has civil and criminal courts, and at the top of each state system is a Superior Court of Justice. Original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction are distributed exactly as they are in the United States.