In a previous post – Mexico’s political system: the basics – we looked at the country’s federal political system. In this post, we look at how the political system works at the two other levels of government: state and municipal.
According to the Constitution of 1917, powers not granted to the Federal Government are reserved for the states. State constitutions roughly mirror the federal constitution. Each state has a popularly elected governor who serves one six-year term and cannot be re-elected. The popularly elected members of the state chamber of deputies serve three-year terms. Non-sequential re-election is permitted. Governors generally have more power than the chamber of deputies. State governments depend on the Federal government for much of their revenue, some of which they funnel to municipal governments. Each state has a Supreme Court of Justice with judges appointed by the state governor.
States are divided into municipalities. There are currently 2458 municipalities (counting Mexico City’s delegaciones or boroughs as municipios) which vary greatly in size and population. For example, the average population of Oaxaca’s 570 municipalities is about 6000 while the average population of Baja California’s five municipalities is over 500,000. Each municipality elects a new president and local council every three years.
Municipal governments have taxing authority but rely very heavily on financial support from state and federal sources. Municipalities are responsible for a variety of public services, including water and sewerage; street lighting and maintenance, trash collection and disposal, public safety and traffic, supervision of slaughterhouses, and maintenance of parks, gardens and cemeteries. Municipalities are also free to assist state and federal governments in the provision of elementary education, emergency fire and medical services, environmental protection and the maintenance of historical landmarks.