Mexico's provincial mayors like Enrique Alfaro Ramirez, Mayor of Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, only serve one three-year term
About us | Quiénes somos |
A propos de nous | Über uns |
Mexico City mayoral elections 2012
Mayors from The Americas
Mayors in Europe
Mexico's urban poor
Mexico City's Green Plan
Interview with Mexico City's mayor
Mexico's 2010 elections
Local government in The Americas:
| Argentina | Bolivia | Brazil | Canada | Caribbean | Chile | Mexico | Peru | USA | Venezuela |
Local government in Europe:
| Albania | Cyprus | France | Germany | Gibralta | Greece | Iceland | Ireland | Italy | Kosovo | Malta | Portugal | Russia | Spain | UK1 | UK2 |
Local government in Asia and Australia
| Australia | China | India | Indonesia | Japan | Malaysia | Philippines | Singapore | South East Asia | South Korea | Thailand | Turkey |
Local government in Africa
| South Africa |
Federated local government
Multi-tier local government
Karachi local government system
Local government mergers
City Mayors reports news from towns and cities around the world. Worldwide | Elections | North America | Latin America | Europe | Asia | Africa | Events |
Mayors from The Americas, Europe. Asia, Australia and Africa are competing for the annual World Mayor Award. More
City Mayors ranks the world’s largest as well as richest cities and urban areas. It also ranks the cities in individual countries, and provides a list of the capital cities of some 200 sovereign countries. More
City Mayors reports political events, analyses the issues and depicts the main players. More
City Mayors describes and explains the structures and workings of local government in Europe, The Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. More
City Mayors profiles city leaders from around the world and questions them about their achievements, policies and aims. More
City Mayors deals with economic and investment issues affecting towns and cities. More
City Mayors reports on how business developments impact on cities and examines cooperation between cities and the private sector. More
City Mayors describes and explains financial issues affecting local government. More
City Mayors lists and features urban events, conferences and conventions aimed at urban decision makers and those with an interst in cities worldwide. More
City Mayors reports urban environmental developments and examines the challenges faced by cities worldwide. More
City Mayors reports on and discusses urban development issues in developed and developing countries. More
City Mayors reports on developments in urban society and behaviour and reviews relevant research. More
City Mayors deals with urban transport issues in developed and developing countries and features the world’s greatest metro systems. More
City Mayors examines education issues and policies affecting children and adults in urban areas. More
City Mayors investigates health issues affecting urban areas with an emphasis on health in cities in developing countries. More
City Mayors examines the importance of urban tourism to city economies. More
City Mayors examines the contributions history and culture make to urban society and environment. More
City Mayors describes the history, architecture and politics of the greatest city halls in the world. More
City Mayors invites readers to write short stories about people in cities around the world. More
City Mayors questions those who govern the world’s cities and talks to men and women who contribute to urban society and environment. More
City Mayors profiles national and international organisations representing cities as well as those dealing with urban issues. More
City Mayors reports on major national and international sporting events and their impact on cities. More
City Mayors lists cities and city organisations, profiles individual mayors and provides information on hundreds of urban events. More
Local government in Mexico
Mexico’s provincial mayors are
restricted to one three-year term
By Nick Swift and Adriana Maciel
14 August 2010: The social and political culture of authoritarianism in Mexico, from the time of its break from Spain, when Iturbide made himself emperor (Augustin I, 1822 to 1823) in lieu of any European interest in the position, to the passing in recent years of laws allowing the military to exercise policing powers, appears to be fissuring; the first small crack was, perhaps, the Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917, which also saw the birth of the party (the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI) that dominated Mexican politics until nearly the beginning of the twenty-first century (and still does, in many respects); the most recent, and by far the most significant, was the creation in March 1994 of the Association of Mexican Municipalities (AMMAC).
In the words of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), "AMMAC is an example of a new association that is standing up for local government and working to ensure that they will have the skills to meet the challenges involved in service delivery and improving the lives of citizens". In other words, the international trend of decentralization of power is not leaving Mexico behind, however much resistance is exerted by Mexico’s strongly ‘presidentialist’ governmental tradition.
As a Federal Republic, there are executive, legislative and judicial arms, with power overwhelmingly concentrated in the executive: there is no vice president; one of the ways the President, who is elected for one six-year term, exercises profound influence is through his Constitutional privilege of deciding which members of his party will run for office, which results in fast bonds of loyalty. The legislature consists of a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate. In the judiciary, the Supreme Court does little more than echo the pronouncements of the executive.
There are in Mexico 31 states, plus the Federal District, where the capital, Mexico City, is sited; the governors of the states are directly elected to six-year terms. The governor of the Federal District is appointed by the President, as was, until 1993, the Mayor of Mexico City.
States contain municipalities of vastly different sizes (altogether some 2, 411 of them), but Mexican municipalities are more like what in the United States are called counties.
An example of the sort of obstacle faced by AMMAC is the ingrained tradition whereby the vast majority of the tax funds collected have been obtained by federal agencies. The predicament in many countries of local governments without financial fuel has thus been even more true in Mexico; one difference, however, has been that in Mexico, prior to AMMAC and apart from the desperate efforts of indigenous and other rural folk to come to terms with the reality of their day to day lives by, for instance, organizing their own village police forces (which is a practice that continues), there was not even the pretence that responsibility was something localities ought to have.
The federal government had, until the mid 1990s, control over the provision of most of the public services that, in countries like the United States and Canada, Mexico’s partners in NAFTA, have long been the domain of municipal governments; consonant with such sway, what embryos of local government existed did so in isolation, which inevitably stopped their development.
One of the greatest challenges to the evolution of local government in Mexico, however, illustrates the extent to which history and culture must be taken into consideration in order to understand present reality: the centre of gravity being located not in the best interests of the citizenry, but in the ability of the top job to attract the kind of personality most predisposed to imposing order on chaos, is reflected throughout descending strata of government. On the principle that the most important thing about the mayor’s office is that as many candidates as possible should have the opportunity to hold it, mayors in Mexico (with the exception of the Mayor of Mexico City, who has a six-year term) are elected for one brief, three-year term, and cannot be re-elected. There is thus little incentive, if it is needed, to do the job in such a way as to make likely one’s return.
Mayors have municipal councils, who are indirectly elected, also for three years. ‘Mayors’ in Mexico are actually called ‘municipal presidents’ (presidente municipal). A different official represents the city legally; the greater (than in Canada and the United States, for example) influence from continental Europe means that the principles on which areas of law are categorized are, often, also different.
In 1984, then President de la Madrid noticed the Mexican in the street’s perception of the degree to which such unbalanced centrality was not working for him and, with a mind to extending the already long supremacy of the PRI yet further, initiated reforms that led to amending the Constitution so that municipal governments were able to raise more of their own money and start using it. In 1988, then President Salinas instituted a program for sending more federal money directly to the local level, precluding state-level interference. Concurrent electoral reforms, not least against fraud, allowed opposition parties, primarily the PAN (National Action Party) (to which current President Felipe Calderón belongs) and the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) (to which current Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard belongs), to make crucial advances. Changes brought about through consensus have included reinforcing electoral bodies’ independence and lessening the capacity of private financial contributions to political parties to influence policy by enhancing public financing.
Another major step was taken in 1989, when Baja California elected a governor who was not a PRI member. In 1992, Jorge Hank Rhon elected Mayor of Tijuana in 2004 tried to emulate another mayor who had obtained a large amount of money through ‘connections’, but was rebuffed. The reality of political bias having thus been brought home to him, the Mayor of Tijuana, at a political event, discussed it with some colleagues, in particular the then Mayor of Mazatlan, who had just absorbed ideas about horizontal local government associations on an exchange trip to Germany.
Thus was created Local Governments for Autonomous Local Government, consisting of about 18 elected mayors. They established their constitution in 1994, with another 50 mayors looking on. Although the 18 were all PAN members, they emphasized their new group’s non-political basis and, also, that membership was not confined to mayors or council members, but was “the whole municipality as an institution”. In that way they obviated the challenges of mayors being limited to one short term and of party allegiance; the decisions to join and to commit funds are made by the whole council.
In 1996, they changed their name to the Association of Mexican Municipalities, with their first aim local government autonomy, which they went about, and continue to go about, not least by cultivating relationships with sympathetic congressmen. In that they have been assisted by the fact that Mexican congressmen do not have their own staff, and are obliged to get information personally through whatever channels are available, of which AMMAC is understandably one. They also made and strengthened international contacts, and the flow of ideas and encouragement helped lead to the establishment, in 2002, of the National Institute for Federalism and Municipal Development (INAFED), aiming to ensure a successful transition from centralism to an authentic subsidiary, solidarity and co-responsibility’s federalism encouraging strong and autonomous municipalities properly supported by states and the federation, that started as “an agreement between the federal government and three local government associations serving as a forum to discuss legislation and issues related to municipalities...
“Although only about 400 municipalities are current members of AMMAC, achievements made in areas of finance and local government management in relation to the federal government benefit the whole local government sector because changes in legislation or the development of programs in support of local government apply to all municipalities. AMMAC stands for improving the ability to manage and the quality of services in municipalities through its advocacy work.”
• Poverty is a crime against humanity
• Support mayors who fight poverty
• Nominate the best for the 2020 World Mayor Prize