The United States of Mexico is a representative democracy, with 31 states and one federal district (Distrito Federal). Each state maintains its own political rights and divisions under a federal system.
Federal power in the Mexican republic is divided between executive, legislative and judicial branches. The leader of the government is the president, currently Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, elected for a six year term (2006-2012). Included in the executive branch are 18 cabinet-level departments, or Secretarias and the Attorney General of the Republic. The Congress of the Union, composed of the Chamber of Senators and the Chamber of Deputies, holds legislative power. The judicial system is led by the Supreme Court of Justice, and also consists of circuit courts (Tribunales Colegiados de Circuito, Tribunales Unitarios de Circuito) and district courts (Juzgados de Distrito).
The president is directly elected through popular vote to a six-year term, which begins December 1. Presidents can serve only one term.
The president is required to carry out the laws approved by the Congress; name and remove cabinet officials, the Attorney General of Mexico, diplomats and ranking officials of the Treasury, and functionaries whose position was not determined through other Constitutional means; maintain internal peace and provide for national defense -- for which he can dispatch armed forces; represent Mexico before other nations; convene Congress for extraordinary sessions; enforce judicial rulings; maintain ports and establish customs duties; and grant pardons.
The Secretarios de Estado and heads of administrative departments report directly to the president. Nominations and approval, as well as dismissal, do not need approval of the Congress. For this reason, acts of Secretarios are considered acts of the president of the republic.
*The Secretaría de Gobernación is not analogous to the United States' Department of the Interior. Gobernación handles immigration, visa, security and other issues.
There is also an extended cabinet, which represents parastatal or decentralized, but government-affiliated and government-run, entities. Some agencies, particularly parastatals, are undergoing partial or complete privatization. Major entities within the extended cabinet include:
Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), Banco de México (Banxico), Nacional Financiera (Nafin), Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior (Bancomext), ProMexico and several others. .
Legislative power rests with the Congress of the Union, which is divided into two chambers: the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Senators. The Chamber of Deputies consists of 300 deputies elected following a vote based on simple majority within a system of electoral districts, and 200 deputies elected following the principle of proportional representation, within a system of at-large districts. The Chamber of Senators is made up of four senators from each state and four from the Federal District.
Both chambers meet from the 1st of September to the 31st of December each year and can be called together for extraordinary sessions.
The Congress has the authority to admit new states or territories to the union, form new entities, regulate conflicts between states and change the residence of the government powers; it can legislate for the Federal District and territories; expedite income laws, approve public accounts and expenses, authorize government loans and determine monetary units; prevent state restrictions to commerce; declare war on a foreign nation at the request of the president and regulate functioning of the armed forces; expedite laws related to federal well-being, such as health, commerce, education and other areas; fill a vacancy of the presidency; create and supervise public works and determine the symbols of the nation.
The Chamber of Senators has other functions as well, including approval of treaties and conventions with foreign powers, ratification of diplomatic and consular appointments, authorization of sending troops outside the country, naming provisional governors when necessary, resolving conflicts that arise between entities of the republic, authorization of appointments to the Supreme Court of Justice.
Following 1994 elections and as a result of constitutional reform, the Senate consists of four representatives from each of the 31 states, plus four from the Federal District. Of the four seats from the Federal District, three are elected by majority vote and is assigned to the ranking opposition party. There are 128 senators, who serve six-year terms and cannot be reelected.
The Chamber of Deputies has exclusive legislative rights and responsibilities following an outline set in article 3 of the Constitution, in matters of finance, in commercial matters between federal entities, and in matters related to war, public education and health. It has the prerogative of establishing the Electoral College to qualify elections for the presidency and it can determine the pertinence of bringing charges against public servants who have committed a transgression against the common good.
The makeup of the Chamber of Deputies has been transformed through successive electoral reforms, especially 1964 when representation of minority parties was introduced. In 1979, further changes were made in the chamber. There are 300 deputies elected following the principle of simple majority within electoral districts, and 200 deputies elected following the principle of proportional representation, within a system of regional districts. Deputies serve three year terms and they cannot be reelected.
Judicial power exists at both the federal and local level, as established in the Constitution and through common law practice and procedures. Judicial power at the federal level lies with the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation and circuit courts (Tribunales Unitarios de Circuito, an appellate-level court; and Tribunales Colegiados de Circuito) and district courts, which handle civil, penal, administrative, labor and agrarian matters. At the local level, in the Federal District, the judicial power rests with the Superior Tribunal of Justice. Under this court are the Courts of First Instance and Courts of Peace.
Members of the judiciary, ministers, magistrates and district judges, are not elected by popular vote. According to constitutional procedure, nominations to the Supreme Court are made by the president and approved by the Senate. Circuit and district court appointments are named by the Supreme Court.
The Federal Electoral Institute (Instituto Federal Electoral)
Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) is an autonomous, permanent body with electoral authority and in charge of organizing elections for the presidency, the Congress.
The IFE was established as a completely independent entity, apart from other branches of Mexico's government. It has four mandates: contribute to the democratic development of the country; preserve and fortify the government by political parties; integrate the federal electoral rolls; assure citizens the right to exercise electoral rights; guarantee the regular and peaceful elections of legislature and the presidency and ensure the authenticity of the elections.
In January, 1993, the IFE authorized the registration of nine political parties to run in 1994's executive and legislative races. Parties now (2012) represented in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate include:
New Alliance Party (Spanish: Partido Nueva Alianza; PNA or PANAL) is one of the newest political parties in Mexico. The New Alliance Party was created on January 30, 2005. Its creation was proposed by the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE, "National Union of Education Workers"), the largest trade union in Latin America, led by Elba Esther Gordillo.
Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), founded Sept. 16, 1939. PAN is one of the three main political parties in Mexico. The party's political platform is generally considered Centre-Right in the Mexican political spectrum. Since 2000, the President of Mexico has been a member of this party; both houses have PAN pluralities, but the party does not have a majority in either house of the Congress. In the 2006 legislative elections the party won 207 out of 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 52 out of 128 Senators..
Partido de la Revolución Democratica (PRD) Founded in Mexico City on May 5, 1989 by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, Heberto Castillo, Marco Rascón Córdova, Gilberto Rincón Gallardo, Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, other prominent former PRI-members and left-wing politicians. The party has the majority of its electoral presence in central and Southern Mexico, whereas in the North its voting averages is only 5%. It has also maintained control over the Federal District (Mexico City) since 1997.
Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), founded in 1929 with the name Partido Nacional Revolucionario, in 1938 it changed its name to Partido de la Revolución Mexicana (PRM) and finally in 1946 it adopted its current name. Since its foundation as the PNR following Mexico's revolution, all presidents of the nation have come from this party until the elections won by the Alliance for Change Coalition (headed by the PAN) in the year 2000.
Partido del Trabajo (PT), founded in 1990.
Partido Verde Ecologista de México (PVEM) was formed in 1993.
Partido Alianza Social (PAS) , Partido de la Sociedad Nacionalista (PSN), and Convergencia por la Democracia Partido Politico Nacional (CDPPN) are all small parties represented in Mexico's Congress.