Friday, July 1, 2011

Mexico City: Legislature tweaks law to block caudillista parties in Mexico City

The Mexico City legislature, Asamblea Legislativa del Distrito Federal (ALDF), approved yesterday a change in its electoral code that, if not deemed unconstitutional, is of great importance to the political scene in Mexico City.

Earlier, the ALDF passed a law stipulating  that a new party would require a membership of 2 percent of the official voting list in every delegation in order to be able to register as a new party; the Supreme Court found this to be too restrictive, and rejected it. 

Now, rather, according to the revised law passed, any new party will need 1.8 percent support of those listed on the official voter registry, spread over 30 of the 40 electoral districts in the Federal District. This is hardly too restrictive, and hopefully the Supreme Court will not overturn this as well.

Why does it matter? Why keep any limitations at all on the formation of new parties? While cynics might point exclusively to the interests of existing parties, who would not want new competitors, there is a very valid reason to avoid a rush of new parties: Within some delegations in Mexico City, old-style caudillos, using tons of clientelistic resources, have built up their own power bases, which given the population of Mexico City is enough to create new and highly personalistic mini-party. These are likely to be all about political opportunism and nothing about any programmatic content, offering "their" voters to the highest bidder.

By requiring that you need a certain level of support beyond the possible fiefdom of, say, Iztapalapa, the ALDF took an important step towards not only limiting political fragmentation, but also toward limiting the formation of highly clientelist electoral groupings rallying essentially behind one strongman-woman's personalistic agenda.

René Arce will not have, it seems, the personal party he dreamed of.


  1. And so democratic progress creeps forward. Slowly, almost unnoticed. But it's there. And it's good news :-)

  2. The ALDF wants to keep Rene Arce and his brother from forming a new party, which would be aligned with Enrique Peña Nieto.

  3. Not just Arce, I think they also want to prevent clowns like Juanito from becoming mini-caciques on a delegacion-level. Not really such a bad idea.

  4. But expect howls of "authoritarianism!" nonetheless. For the good of Mexican democracy - dDeath to parties as family enterprises!