Mexico was a member of the category of developing countries, which was characterized by the "third world" designation given to most of the poor world, which wasn't firmly aligned with the United States of America or the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Mexico was a one-party authoritarian regime.
The events of the 1980s and 1990s transformed Mexico's political and economic structures into a modern day example of democratic transition.
There are many reasons for cautious optimism in seeing Mexico as a model for others around the world, despite the fact that it is still navigating many of the problems of the developing world.
Mexico is an excellent example of the struggles involved with development and democratization.
The federal republic of Mexico is the result of two major revolutions.
The first established Mexico as an independent country from Spain in 1821, and the second removed a military dictator in 1911, beginning Mexico's transition to constitutional republicanism.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) came to control every aspect of the political process for most of the twentieth century as authoritarianism did not end in 1911.
The transition away from one-party authoritarianism to democracy began in the 1980s and 1990s.
Mexico has one of the most diverse climates in the world, with mountain ranges, deserts, beautiful coastal beaches, fertile valleys, high plains, and rain forests all packed into one country.
Many parts of the country are separated from one another by mountains and deserts, which can have a large impact on Mexican politics.
Mexico has a relatively small amount of arable farmland, making development after independence slow and difficult, but recently, natural resources with accessibility and uses in the modern world are being discovered.
These resources, like the silver discovered by Spanish colonial masters in the 1500s, are not for the most part bringing prosperity and development to the broad Mexican population, but are bringing tremendous wealth to a small elite at the top of society.
The United States is one of the most powerful countries in the world and Mexico is one of the most powerful countries in the world.
The length of the border is symbolic of the degree to which Mexican foreign policy concerns are directed toward the United States, compared to Mexico's other southern neighbors.
Mexicans are very unified by their political values and traditions.
In Mexico's major nineteenth- and twentieth-century revolutions, ordinary Mexicans stood up against powerful elites and charismatic leaders led popular movements to revolutionary victory.
Mexican culture celebrates the legacy of its revolutionary heroes.
Mexico has a long tradition of authoritarianism that goes back to Spanish colonial rule, through the military rulers of the nineteenth century, and up to the PRI bosses of the twentieth century.
The ability of strong men to wield extensive political powers is usually not checked by the acting chief executive.
Spanish colonization built society in Mexico with the Catholic mission as the center of daily life and political organization.
Most of Mexico's history was politically active by priests, except for a brief anti-Catholic backlash in the 1920s and 1930s.
Most Mexicans attend mass on a regular basis, and more than 80 percent of them identify as Catholic.
The regional divides of Mexican politics were brought together by a favor-trading system of quid pro quo, which benefited everyone at the top mutually.
The PRI's control of Mexico's political processes to hold on to the power and wealth of the state throughout the twentieth century has been the result of longstanding official corruption and authoritarianism.
Mexicans are united by their use of the Spanish language.
Many of the indigenous languages in southern Mexico are in danger of extinction despite the large indigenous minority.
Spanish is the official language of Mexico and is spoken by over 99 percent of the population.
The history of Mexico is broken into three distinct eras, each separated by a major revolution.
The system of patron-clientelism and authoritarianism were not altered by the changes to the regime.
The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was captured in 1519 by the first Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes.
Spanish soldiers who were not allowed to bring their European families to the New World quickly mixed with the native population, creating a new mestizo ethnicity of mixed European and native ancestry.
Mestizos make up over 60 percent of the population of Mexico, with Amerindians making up most of the rest.
The social structure of the Spanish was based on a rigid racial hierarchy.
The native population was forced to convert to Christianity by the Spanish.
Agricultural work and meals were organized at Spanish missions.
Mexico's effort to win independence from Spain began in 1810, but it didn't achieve full recongition of its status as an independent state until 1821.
The Spanish system became the focus of a revolution when a Spanish priest organized an army of poor indigenous farmers to fight against the Spanish army for the right to grow crops forbidden by the law.
Other Mexicans, especially criollos with limited opportunities in colonial society, joined the revolutionary fervor sweeping Latin America to overthrow colonial rule despite the fact that Hidalgo's army was defeated and scattered and he was executed.
Mexican politics became unstable after Spain recognized Mexican independence.
There was constant bloodshed from the fighting between rival camarillas, which were led by strongmen generals.
Presidents changed as often as the seasons, with vice presidents leading coups against presidents, and presidents leaving office to fight off rebellions in other parts of the country.
There were thirty-six different presidents.
One of them, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, assumed the presidency on ten different occasions, leaving office to engage in fighting somewhere only a few months into a term.
The United States seized huge amounts of Mexican territory in the north and west, including the annexation of Texas in 1845, after the Texas war for independence from Mexico.
Conservatives with land ownership and ties to European nobility battled liberals who wanted Mexico to move toward constitutional democracy.
Mexico's politics continued to be unstable despite both sides hoping for stability.
Conservatives seemed to win when Napoleon III of France invaded to place an heir to the throne as Emperor of Mexico, but he was overthrown by a liberal general who restored the Mexican Republic.
The period of instability known as the Porfiriato lasted until the reign of President Porfirio Diaz.
After losing the election for president in 1871, a general in Juarez's army plotted a rebellion against the government.
After overthrowing the government in 1876, he ran for president and promised to step down after free and fair elections.
He didn't fulfill his campaign promise of not being re-elected and was in charge of the country for thirty-five years.
The campaign slogan was changed to Sufragio efectivo, no reeleccion, which means "effective vote, no reelection", by underground political critics.
The Porfiriato had its supporters despite his broken promise.
The fighting among camarillas came to a close, and there wasn't another internal revolution until 1910-1911.
Diaz invited foreign investment to develop Mexican industry, particularly mining, because he centralized control over all decision making in the Mexican economy.
Massive economic growth came at a high cost.
Hundreds of thousands of peasants were dispossessed of their land to make room for major mining operations, and communal farming lands among indigenous groups in the south were seized, privatized into plots, and sold off to private owners.
Mexico's economic growth never trickled down to the average person.
The revolution in 1910-1911 was caused by inequality.
In 1910, calls to hold a new presidential election and remove Diaz from office sprang from two major groups: elites frustrated by their own inability to advance their interests in the regime; and ordinary, poor, displaced Mexicans frustrated with their station in life.
After he was forced to leave the presidency, popular opposition grew until he blocked efforts to hold the election.
The civil war between rival camarilla groups in Mexico began after Diaz's abdication.
The constitution of 1917 was drafted by the northern constitutionalists after the defeat of the generals in the south and north.
The creation of the Institutional Revolutionary Party was due to the desire of the revolutionary generals to end the violence after the constitution was passed.
The leaders of the revolution agreed to share power.
The first three presidents of Mexico were all generals.
While each president had a single six-year term, other former generals and revolutionary leaders held other major positions in the government.
After one term, each president would give power to the next leader.
While theoretically any candidate from other parties could compete for the presidency in elections as well, the giant umbrella of the PRI enclosed so many of the most influential leaders that the competition was meaningless.
The fighting among Mexico's caudillos was brought to an end by the party.
Mexico's history in the 20th century was characterized by the establishment of an authoritarian one-party rule by the PRI, followed by a gradual transition to democracy that culminated in the first opposition party victory in a presidential election in 2000.
The most interesting sexenio of the early PRI rule was that of Lazaro Cardenas, who was president from 1934 to 1940.
He was a general in the Revolution.
He wanted to build an independent power base of loyalty among the people, as opposed to his predecessors who mostly stayed in Mexico City.
The new powers of the state allowed them to acquire large tracts of land previously controlled by private owners and convert them into agricultural collectives.
The peasants did not gain full ownership rights of their plot, but they were redistributed from the land owners.
LABOR REFORM: Cardenas's administration encouraged the formation of peasant and workers' unions, and strictly enforced the eight-hour work day and other rights of workers.
Foreign businesses were forced to leave Mexico and their property was expropriated.
The creation of PEMEX, a state-owned oil company, was the most notable example of nationalization.
The policy of import substitution industrialization was used to fight the loss of foreign investment.
The government placed high tariffs on foreign products in order to encourage Mexicans to buy from domestic companies.
The left-wing policies of Cardenas were combined with an effort to concentrate power in the hands of the presidency.
Groups that represented the interests of peasants, labor, industry, the middle class, the military, and others were invited to meet with the president and policymakers to share their input, but only the preferred guests of the president would be invited.
The groups were left out of the negotiations because of their cooperative relationship with the government.
A new generation of leaders emerged after the president/generals who founded the PRI had finished their terms.
President Aleman put Mexico on a path of development through liberal reforms, including the encouragement of entrepreneurship and inviting foreign investment into Mexico once again.
The next few decades were characterized by presidents who continued moving economic policy back and forth between the left-wing model of Cardenas and the right-wing model of Aleman.
The old "dinosaurs" of the PRI's early generation were losing power to a new generation of educated, technical experts.
The PRI settled on a model of economic reform that involved private entrepreneurship, a limited role for the government, and privatization of nationalized industries.
The "Mexican Miracle" of the 1980s, in which Mexico's GDP grew substantially, was a result of these reforms.
High oil production and inflated oil prices caused most of the growth of the 1980s.
The collapse of oil prices in 1982 made it incredibly difficult for Mexico to repay the debts it had incurred to develop its national oil industry, and the debt became such a burden, Mexico was forced to ask for help from the International Monetary Fund.
The Mexican government agreed to a set of loans from the International Monetary Fund in exchange for the introduction of a structural adjustment program.
Mexico stopped running annual budget deficits due to structural adjustment.
Mexico had to privatize many state-owned companies to raise cash, cut its government spending substantially, and further open its borders to foreign competition and free trade.
The 1980s were a difficult decade for average Mexicans.
GDP grew by only 0.1 percent per year, while inflation averaged 100 percent per year.
The "lost decade" for Mexico was the 1980s.
Reductions in government spending, privatization of state-owned assets, and liberalization of trade policy are required when the International Monetary Fund imposes a structural adjustment program.
The PRI was able to maintain its hold on power through vote rigging and its corporatist hold on power networks across the country.
The results before the breakdown indicated that the left-wing opposition was winning, but once the computers were up and running again, Carlos Salinas de Gortari was declared the winner.
The former President admitted that the PRI had rigged the 1988 election and burned the ballots to hide the evidence.
Thanks to the stolen election, Salinas's administration lacked legitimacy from the beginning.
Salinas did manage some major reforms, including signing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada, despite domestic perception that his administration was one of the most corrupt in Mexico's history.
Salinas's administration has been accused of corruption due to the privatization of Telmex.
Carlos Slim Helu, a close friend of Salinas, was able to acquire a large number of Telmex shares without paying for them up front, but rather by paying installments every year on the revenue of the phone company.
The second richest man in the world is Carlos Slim Helu.
Pressures from angry Mexican citizens and international stakeholders like the United States pushed the government to create a truly independent election regulating body; the Federal Election Institute (IFE), which is today known as the National Electoral Institute (INE), was meant to ensure that the 1994 election would not carry International observers were allowed to watch the 1994 elections in Mexico.
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The assassination of the PRI candidate remains a mystery.
As foreign investors fled the country, the value of the peso fell against the dollar.
The 1994 election in Mexico was considered the most free and fair in the country's history, but the PRI candidate won because voters chose stability over the fear of what might happen if Mexico were governed by a party other than the PRI.
The PRI was defeated in a presidential election in 2000 by Vicente Fox of the National Action Party.
The election showed that the opposition could win in the new system.
The PRI has reinvented its message and appeal to regain a prominent place in Mexican politics despite being heralded as the nail in the coffin by many.
Mexico is trying to build a democratic and pluralist political culture after a long history of authoritarianism.
Mexico has made observable progress in building a political culture in which citizen input is more significant to political outcomes.
The majority of the population of Mexico live in cities.
The last few decades have seen a huge wave of migration away from the countryside to the cities.
In Mexico, the best job opportunities are in cities, which is related to industrialization and modernization.
As a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement, international firms located factories in the north of Mexico to take advantage of low-wage Mexican labor, exporting to the American market just across the border.
Rural Mexicans have a lower literacy rate than urban Mexicans.
They show different voting behaviors.
Recent elections show that rural voters are more willing to support the PRI, while urban voters are more likely to vote for the opposition to the right and left.
Rural voters seem more concerned with short term gain, and the ability of PRI candidates to curry favors from the patron-client network seems to convince rural voters to stay loyal to the party.
Even if a candidate can't bring federal dollars to their city, urban voters are more likely to support reforms to remove the power base of the PRI.
Many urban voters turned to the PRI in 2012 and these trends are changing.
Rural voters are the base of support for the PRI.
Mexico is a divided country.
Mexican political culture is largely unified by a strong national identity, shared language, and common religion.
Mexico has one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world for a country with a large population.
The top 10 percent of Mexico's population earn more than the bottom 10 percent on average.
In the 1990s, new job opportunities for multinational firms in the north and border area had little effect on growth or employment in central or southern Mexico.
As small entrepreneurial ventures are driving most of the growth, inequality has declined.
More than 30 percent of Mexicans live on less than $5 per day, despite a GDP of over $10,000.
About 65 percent of Mexicans identify as Mestizo, 17 percent as Amerindian, and 16 percent as predominantly white or European.
Most wealth and political power in Mexico is held by Mestizos, who live in all parts of the country.
The southern part of the country is home to many indigenous descendants who still speak indigenous languages, as well as Spanish.
The Amerindian population is poorer on average than other groups, and often feels neglected and isolated from policymakers who are mostly Mestizo.
The ongoing troubles with the EZLN Zapatista Movement, an armed resistance group that has periodically establishedautonomous municipalities in the south consistent with the left-wing ambitions of the group, is indicative of this.
The Mestizos live in more prosperous cities in the north, while the Amerindians live in poorer rural communities in the south.
The minority group in the south, the Amerindians, are more susceptible to political conflict between the groups because of the coincideing nature of the cleavages.
Growing prosperity in Mexico over the last three decades and the transition from authoritarianism to democracy and from state corporatism to pluralism are helping to expand the opportunities for political participation in the country.
The networks of support from the generals who established the PRI were the basis of patron-clientelism.
The labor, peasants, and middle-class business categories were organized by the PRI.
The government would allow these groups to voice their concerns if they never challenged the PRI.
During the one-party rule of the PRI, Mexico was clearly a corporatist system, but it has transitioned to an increasingly pluralist system during its democratic transition.
There were cracks in the system early on, as many groups outside the PRI's umbrella still publicly voiced frustration with the PRI, but relatively few Mexicans were involved in civil society until later in the twentieth century.
The National Action Party was founded in 1939 by a group of businessmen opposed to the massive expansion of the state into economic matters.
In the late twentieth century, Mexico's civil society system became more pluralistic, with citizens free to join groups and pursue political, charitable, religious, and recreational causes without being restricted by the state.
By 2008 there were over 10,000 civil society organizations in Mexico.
25 percent of these organizations are religious in nature, which is evidence of the central role the Catholic Church continues to play in the country.
During the authoritarian period and the modern transitional period, protests have been a feature of Mexican political participation.
Before Mexico hosted the 1968 Summer Olympics, farmers and workers unions staged a number of highly visible rallies to protest the government's lack of attention to their plight.
The Mexican government spent $150 million on preparations for the games, and the farmers and workers believed their needs were being ignored.
Many of the leaders of the independent unions were arrested by the government as it was determined to carry out the games without incident.
As these events unfolded, more and more student groups around the country joined to take action against the PRI's oppression, and the opposition was taking the shape of a social movement that could undermine the PRI's hold on power.
On October 2, 1968, over 10,000 students gathered in Tlateloco Plaza to listen to speeches.
The Mexican government sent thousands of troops to surround the gathering.
The death of 30 to 300 students at the hands of the soldiers was followed by the arrest of more than 1,200 students.
The Mexican state media initially reported that armed provocateurs started a firefight with the government's forces, who fired back in self-defense, but reports and records released in 2001 prove that the provocateurs were members of the Presidential Guard.
The 2006 election was the closest in Mexico's history, with the PAN candidate Felipe Calderon defeating the PRD candidate by just over half a million votes.
Obrador accused the PAN of rigging the vote and demanded a hand recount after delivering 900 pages of supposed evidence.
Obrador staged rallies in Mexico City to protest the results, with the crowds estimated between 500,000 and 3,000,000 over the course of forty-seven days occupying the center of the city.
International election observers affirmed the general fairness and accuracy of the election result after the Tribunal ordered a partial recount.
Obrador threatened to use his crowds to prevent the "imposition of Calderon" upon the people, but was unable to mount enough of a crowd to disrupt the inauguration.
Many Mexicans believed that Televisa slanted its coverage in favor of the PRI in the 2012 election.
A protest that resulted in the death of some of the participants was ordered by the governor of Mexico.
A group of students came to a campaign rally for the president of Mexico to protest, but Televisa and the candidate characterized the disruption as the work of radical activists, not ordinary students.
131 students who attended the event posted a video on the Internet with their student IDs.
Millions of Mexicans joined in street protests against the PRI and perceived media bias after the video went viral.
Yo Soy #132 is the first time that social media has played a major role in the organization of a protest movement in Mexico.
Mexico's democratic transition has involved the creation of a few new institutions, but has mainly occurred by the reform of existing institutions.
Mexico's election system has developed into a three-party system with the PAN on the right, the PRI in the relative center, and the PRD on the left of the ideological spectrum.
In the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, competing caudillos sought to unite their rule and share power rather than continue with the bloodshed and instability that had characterized politics in the early twentieth century.
It was the longest continuous rule for a political party in the world.
Its longevity can be attributed to its favorable media relationships, a patron-client network that did favors for local residents, and fraud in some elections.
In exchange for a vote for the PRI, the PRI would provide free entertainment and food at its election-day events around the world.
The PRI continued to rule most of the states after it lost the presidency in 2000.
In 2009, the national legislature was regained by the PRI, and in 2012 they regained the presidency.
An important basis for the support they receive in elections is the strong patron-client network the PRI still maintains.
The national candidates are trying to convince voters to support their agenda, just like the other political parties.
This is a departure from the past, when the PRI could be characterized as a dominant party with no definitive ideology other than to get reelected and stay in power.
The pendulum of the mid-twentieth-century presidents vacillating between state-driven and market-driven economic policy is evidence of the PRI's ideological flexibility.
The ideology of the modern PRI is usually characterized as centrist, center-right, embracing recent capitalist and globalizing reforms, while advocating for welfare policies to address the needs of lower class Mexicans.
Working-class or rural Mestizos were the most likely to vote for the PRI in the last three presidential elections.
After the election of Vicente Fox in 2000, the PAN became the PRI's opposition to the right, and Felipe Calderon became the president.
From 2000 to 2009, the PAN held a plurality of seats in the legislature, but never held a majority.
Free enterprise, privatization of national industries, trade liberalization, and small government are some of the policies supported by the PAN.
Fox's inability to navigate governing Mexico without the PRI's network was one of the reasons he had difficulties implementing most of the PAN agenda.
The PAN is a socially conservative party in Mexico that enjoys the support of the Catholic Church because of its stances against abortion and same-sex marriage.
Those who live in the northern region, those who work in the private sector, and those who make better than average incomes are the most likely to vote for the PAN in Mexico.
The PRD has been the opposition to the left since it broke away from the PRI after the fraudulent 1988 election.
It has supported an ideology centered on human rights and social justice for disadvantaged groups in Mexico, drawing particular support from the southern region with the highest concentration of poor and indigenous Mexicans.
Mexico's labor unions are declining in power because of globalization and free trade, but the PRD performs well in urban areas.
Obrador called upon PRD supporters to gather in Mexico City to protest the results after he almost won the presidency.
He was the runner-up in 2012 for the second year in a row.
The PRD barely crossed 10 percent of the vote in the PR portion of legislative elections in 2015, after getting over 20 percent in recent elections, as Obrador left the party to form another called the National Regeneration Movement.
After losing the 2012 elections, Lopez Obrador created MORENA.
Mo vimiento Re generacion Na cional is also known as the National Regeneration Movement.
In the first election of its kind in Mexico, the coalition of left- and right-wing groups won 47 out of 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
MORENA claimed the most seats of any party in Mexico's Senate and Chamber of Deputies in the first elections it competed in.
Mexico is a federal state with many different levels and different branches of government.
Legislators will be able to be reelected to a limited number of terms now that reforms have been signed into law.
Governors and presidents can only serve one sexenio.
Mexico's president is directly elected every six years.
Party machinery would fall in line to arrange the orderly election of the incumbent president's successor under the rule of the PRI.
The elections are generally believed to be free and fair.
Voters cast their vote after each party nominates a candidate for the presidency.
Regardless of whether the candidate received a majority or plurality, the candidate with the most votes wins the presidency.
In the last two elections, the system has come under scrutiny as presidents were able to win with less than 40 percent of the vote.
The system never produced results like this before, as the candidates for president of the PRI would usually receive over 90 percent of the vote.
Many recent presidents have faced questions about the legitimacy of their election because of the modern three-party competitive structure, which makes it difficult for a candidate to govern with a majority "mandate" from the people.
After the 2006 election, election observers from the EU made a recommendation to change to a two-ballot majority system, with a run-off between the top two candidates if no one gets a majority in the first round.
Presidents can't run for a second term under the principle of non-reelection.
In previous elections, candidates needed to be affiliated with a nationally registered political party in order to run, but starting with the upcoming presidential election, independent candidates will be able to run as well.
The candidate with the most votes wins the presidency regardless of whether or not the candidate has a majority.
The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are the houses of the Congress of the Union in Mexico.
There are 500 members in the Chamber of Deputies, each elected to a three-year term, 300 of whom are elected from single-member-district (SMD) constituencies based on which candidate gets a plurality (not necessarily a majority), and 200 of whom are elected by proportional representation.
Legislators can run for up to four terms now that they are allowed to serve one single three-year term.
The Senate of the Republic has 128 senators.
The first 96 seats are filled by three senators from each of Mexico's 31 states.
The parties can run two candidates in the same state.
The party that gets the most votes in the state will have both of their candidates elected.
The third seat for each state goes to the party with the second most votes.
According to an IFE rule from 2000, women must make up at least 30 percent of the party list.
Thirty-two seats in the Senate are awarded in a PR system based on the party's performance in a nationwide vote.
After their first term, senators may run for an additional term.
Mexico's legislature has been characterized by gridlock since the reforms of the 1990s, despite the fact that it was relatively easy for the PRI to manage elections to ensure a large legislative majority.
Since the 2000 election, no single party has held a majority of both houses, and the PRI has been able to form governing coalitions with smaller parties.
MoreNA's coalition has majority control of the Chamber of Deputies, but no coalition has a majority in the Senate.
Each of Mexico's 31 states directly chooses a governor to a six-year term, though the years of the election are staggered state-by-state.
Local officials such as mayors are also elected by voters.
These races have become more competitive in Mexico's democratic transition, since they were once completely controlled by the PRI.
The rise of an independent interest group system was caused by reforms in the 1980s and 1990s that broke the model of the PRI's arrangement of state corporatism.
The Confederation of Mexican Workers is a pillar of the PRI.
The collapse of oil prices and the start of austerity imposed by the International Monetary Fund reduced the power of the union, especially as the PRI administrations negotiated and signed free-trade agreements.
As unions lost power within the PRI to the new technico elites, the Ctm took a conservative stance opposing any change to the status quo of PRI domination and was perceived by workers to negotiate disputes in favor of the employer more and more often.
Workers turned to independent unions as the legitimate voices for their concerns, and the Ctm is now just one of many voices drawing attention to labor concerns.
The media was manipulated by the PRI during its time in power.
The variety of media outlets were privately owned.
The PRI would pay journalists directly to write stories for friendly media outlets.
PRI candidates for office and state-owned companies controlled by PRI-connected executives would only advertise in cooperative media; official announcements, state industry ads, and PRI campaign ads could account for as much as two-thirds of revenue for many media companies.
It was nearly impossible for an outlet to stay open if they didn't cooperate with the PRI.
In the 1980s structural adjustment austerity limited the state's ability to pay for expenses like media coverage and most of the state subsidies to media were eliminated.
There are many ways for Mexican news consumers to get their news.
Vicente Fox's many public gaffes were covered by the media during his time in office, as it demonstrated independence in its willingness to criticize the administration.
Many Mexicans were concerned about the media bias in favor of the PRI since Televisa, Mexico's largest media conglomerate, used much of its programming and print to cover the governor of the state of Mexico.
The Constitution of 1917 created Mexico's state institutions.
Mexico's political culture and functional political processes have changed a lot, but the structural institutions have not.
The president of Mexico is elected to a single six-year term and acts as both the ceremonial head of state and the head of government.
Most of the presidents of Mexico have had their own armed power base.
Presidents are not allowed to have served in the military for more than six months before the election.
The constitution gave the president broad powers, as well as huge influence over party affairs.
The Mexican executive was often characterized as a six-year dictatorship, as presidents would fill every level of government with political loyalists, creating a massive patron-client network with the president at the top.
Most of the power at the federal level of government is given to the president.
The president's powers are limited by the Constitution.
In the twentieth century, the president was not as important to the Mexican political system as he is today.
Mexican citizens still think the president is responsible for all political outcomes, positive and negative.
Both houses of the Mexican Congress of the Union exercise meaningful power in policymaking.
After opposition party deputies were elected out of 500 seats in the 1988 election, it became a check on the president's power.
Even though the PAN held a plurality through 2009, it was difficult for President Fox and President Calderon to pass reforms because of the new norm of gridlock in the legislature.
After 2012 the PRI party had difficulties in leading seats.
The Supreme Court of Justice in Mexico is made up of eleven judges who are appointed to fifteen-year terms by the president.
Judges can be nominated for more terms.
The Supreme Court of Justice appoints the judges at lower-level courts.
The system of judicial appointment used to be part of the PRI's patron-client network, however, reforms in 1995 created a merit system for prospective judges to prove their qualifications before they can be nominated.
The reforms are making the judiciary more independent.
The Supreme Court of Justice has the power of judicial review to strike down laws that are unconstitutional, but only if at least one-third of the Congress, one-third of a state congress, and the attorney general ask them to do so.
Code law is the basis of Mexico's legal system.
Detailed legal codes enacted into law by Congress or presidential decree answer most legal questions.
In a common-law system, judicial precedent does not play a role in the interpretation of laws.
Many Mexicans don't trust the courts because of the long history of patron-clientelism and corruption.
There are still frequent complaints against judges even though Felipe Calderon tried to crack down on corruption.
Most of them are small and related to a lack of competence among state level judges.
There are still troubling cases in which judges have been bought off by drug traffickers or threatened with violence in exchange for favorable rulings.
The 2008 reform that required trials to be public by 2016 was the reason why trials were not held publicly.
Over 1.5 million people work in Mexico's bureaucracy.
The bureaucracy was thought to be corrupt and incompetent when it was part of the patron-client network.
Most bureaucrats were not familiar with their jobs when the head of an agency was moved to a new agency as a new president took office.
Mexicans would expect bribes from bureaucrats in order to get approvals or certifications.
During the one-party rule, the bureaucracy was part of the president's patron-client network, but during the democratic transition, it has become more professional and non-partisan.
The bureaucracy is notorious for being corrupt.
One of the first orders of business for the PAN was to professionalize the bureaucracy.
The result was a massive codification of regulations called tramites, which established procedures meant to prevent incompetence in the bureaucracy.
Mexicans became incredibly frustrated with the large number of tramites, making repeated trips to government agencies, and waiting in long lines for even the most basic approvals for things like trash collection.
The Mexican said he paid $250 in bribes to get approval to paint his house.
A $50,000 cash prize was offered to anyone who could identify the most unnecessary tramite, and over 20,000 nominations were received.
Over 4,200 tramites are on the books, and Mexicans have paid more than $2 billion in bribes to bureaucrats in the last year.
The military dominated Mexican politics in the 19th and 20th century.
From independence through 1946, nearly every head of state was a general.
Military officers had to be out of the military for at least six months before taking any other official position.
The president is the supreme commander of the military.
Ensuring the subordination of the military was a priority for the early PRI presidents to prevent the instability and constant threat of coups that had plagued Mexico prior to the formation of the PRI.
Presidents Cardenas and Calles, both former generals themselves, have a policy of rotating the command posts of their generals to prevent them from building an independent base of political power in any region.
Some of the state-owned companies provided lucrative positions for generals to prevent them from getting into politics.
Today's military is largely professional and depoliticized, firmly under the control of the elected officials, with no sign that they will intervene in Mexico's political system anytime soon.
Mexico was constitutionally federal, but state governments were essentially puppets of the president.
The states have been given a new independence and significance because of election reforms.
Each of Mexico's 31 states has its own governor and congress.
Governors can only serve a single six-year term, and legislators can only serve one term at a time, though they may run for election for additional nonconsecutive terms.
Mexico is both constitutionally and functionally federal.
States have a wide range of powers within their borders.
Mexico was once classified as a less-developed or developing country with an authoritarian political system.
Voters and political elites must navigate new policy concerns in order to ensure the survival of the reformed regime in Mexico.
Since the fiscal crisis of 1982, Mexico's economic policies have moved in a completely different direction.
Mexico has embraced globalization and free trade as part of its development strategy.
The North American Free Trade Agreement was very successful in bringing new higher-wage jobs to the northern region, and also to maquiladora districts where factories can import raw materials duty and tariff free, and export to any market around the world with no restrictions from the Mexican state.
The early successes slowed as the United States traded with China and other low-cost manufacturers; whereas maquiladora factories were once responsible for 17 percent of employment in Mexico.
In many cases, Mexican factories are the best option for employment because they pay very low wages.
There is still debate about the effectiveness of the North American Free Trade Agreement in Mexico.
Since the introduction of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico's economy has grown at a rate of 1.5 percent per year, but the gap between rich and poor has grown.
Estimates show that the costs of basic household goods have been cut in half, allowing many Mexicans to live better than before.
Poverty has gone up.
Subsidized U.S. agricultural products flooded the Mexican market and put many farmers out of business, possibly contributing to the wave of illegal immigration into the United States.
Since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, agricultural exports from Mexico into the United States have tripled, suggesting it may be creating more farm jobs than it has cost.
There will likely be political conflict over the next many years.
A program called opportunidades is part of Mexico's strategy to deal with rising poverty.
The government makes cash payments to mothers in poverty if their children attend school regularly and follow certain nutrition guidelines.
The program has been very successful in other countries.
After the influx of oil revenue in the 1970s, large state-owned, yet independent business operations were created in Mexico.
Parastatals were protected from foreign competition through 1982.
The fiscal crisis required Mexico to eliminate many of its trade barriers as part of structural adjustment, and parastatals began losing huge sums of money against their far more efficient competitors.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the government sold most of these firms.
The largest and most significant, the national oil company, Pemex, was tried to privatize by President Fox.
Fox was unable to get this agenda passed through Congress, and Pemex has remained a source of frustration for its inefficient production and operating losses that the state must subsidize.
Foreign oil exploration companies are now allowed to drill in Mexico on a limited basis, as the president has reformed the oil market by allowing limited foreign competition.
One-third of Mexico's annual budget is funded by taxes paid by Pemex.
The tax structure in Mexico is being changed to make it possible for Pemex to survive against foreign companies, while at the same time making the government less dependent on Pemex revenue.
In response to a wave of violence that overtook many cities in the north, Mexico has been engaged in a war on drugs.
Drug traffickers are competing for control of distribution networks into the United States.
Local officials, including the police, were bribed to ignore the activity of the cartel.
As Presidents Fox and Calderon tried to root out local corruption, they saw opportunities to move into territory previously held by other rival gangs.
Local officials and reporters who try to stop the activity of the drug traffickers are often murdered.
Between 60,000 and 120,000 people have died from drug-related violence so far.
President Fox used the Mexican military to carry out high-profile campaigns against the drug gangs, and though he criticized the strategy for bringing about too much bloodshed, he followed a similar strategy with much more success.
The situation in Mexico appears to be stabilizing and many of the high-profile leaders of the drug gangs have been brought into custody.
Mexico has had a major problem with corruption for many decades.
Mexico was ranked 135 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index.
In the small town of Iguala, 43 students were kidnapped and burned to death in the summer of 2014).
The mayor and his wife ordered the kidnapping because the students were going to disrupt an event where the wife would announce her plans to run for mayor.
The president has had to contend with corruption concerns.
The First Lady's mansion was built by a contractor who received part of a $4.3 billion rail contract from the government.
It was questionable for someone who worked in civil service for their entire career to be worth more than three million dollars in the middle of his presidency.
Congress passed an anti-corruption law in 2015.
The reversal of longstanding impunity in Mexico remains to be seen.
Mexico's foreign policy has always been focused on the relationship with the United States.
There are many reasons why the United States is so important.
The majority of Mexico's exports are to the United States.
Remittances, payments sent back into Mexico from workers in the United States, make up 2.1 percent of Mexico's GDP.
Mexico is the third largest trading partner of the United States.
After the terrorist attacks on September 11, the priorities for the United States changed from economic integration to counterterrorism and security.
The United States in the North American Free Trade Agreement was criticized by President Donald Trump.
The negotiations with Canada and Mexico followed his threats to pull the United States out of the agreement.
Minor modifications to tariffs and quota in a few industries of concern, including automobile manufacturing and dairy products, were the result of these negotiations.
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is now referred to as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, as opposed to the North American Free Trade Agreement, though its final approval is still pending.
Immigration is a difficult issue between the two countries.
Mexican presidents have supported loosened U.S. immigration restrictions to allow Mexican guest workers.
The United States never created a guest worker program and built a massive border fence to stop illegal immigration from Mexico.
The Berlin Wall was compared to the fence by the President.
Many U.S. policy responses push the boundaries of Mexico's sovereignty, with American police, military, drug enforcement agents, and drones patrolling Mexico in search of drug-related criminals.
Mexico has signed free-trade agreements with 44 different countries.
Mexico joined the World Trade Organization in 1995 and is now a member of the United Nations.
The terms that appear on the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam are tested.
The recent history of Mexico has been characterized by violence between warring factions of northern, central, and southern ethnic groups, growing centralization of power into the Mexican presidency, and the influence of left-wing extremists at the state level.