The first coalition government in Mexico

It is the power of the governor of the State of Mexico to opt for a coalition government at any time.

Political Constitution of the Free and Sovereign State of Mexico.

If he wins the elections on June 4, that of the PRI member Alejandra del Moral Vela in the State of Mexico could be the first coalition government in the country. It would be an important step in advancing political regime change. Although the PRI governor of Durango, Esteban Villegas Villarreal, formed a plural cabinet and announced that his would be the first coalition government in Mexico, the lack of regulation in the state does not allow it to be characterized as such.

In 2016, the State of Mexico was one of the first to incorporate the coalition government into its constitution. From the beginning of his administration, Governor Alfredo del Mazo Maza could choose to form a coalition government. He never did. The Coalition Government Law and a reform to the Electoral Code of the State of Mexico, related to the issue, were published on September 30, 2022, within the limit so that the additions to the electoral law could be applied in the electoral process of this anus.

The urgency to approve the legislation related to the coalition government before the start of the 2023 electoral process, after more than six years of omission, was due to the fact that to form the electoral coalition It goes through the State of Mexico For the gubernatorial election, the PAN and the PRD placed as a condition that the commitment be formalized that, if they succeed in the elections, the governor would form a coalition government.

The PAN and the PRD knew that the candidacy would correspond to the PRI and they wanted the electoral coalition agreements to include the distribution of the cabinet and the main government dependencies among all the coalition parties. The rush to legislate to comply with this condition led to the approval of an electoral reform, linked to the issue of the coalition government, politically and legally questionable.

Neither the constitution nor the local legislation establishes that an electoral agreement can legally bind the governor to form a coalition government. Nor that the distribution of government agencies between the parties, agreed upon when registering the electoral coalition, obliges the legislative and executive powers to make the coalition government cabinet conform to the terms agreed upon by them. However, with the reform of the electoral law, it is intended to legalize the distribution of government posts, before the election, between the leaders of the coalition parties.

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The additions to the electoral law indicate that, in the case of electoral coalitions or common candidacies, the parties and the candidate can establish, through a “Participation Agreement”, “the way in which they (the political parties) they will participate in the integration of the branches of the Executive branch and its auxiliary bodies, as well as in the definition of the legislative agenda”. In addition, they establish that the controversies derived from the breach of the agreement will be resolved by the local electoral court.

Nowhere in the Electoral Code of the State of Mexico is reference made to the coalition government, nor in the Coalition Government Law does it mention the “Participation Agreement” regulated in the electoral law, for which reason there is no legal basis to legally bind the content of that agreement with the exercise of the faculty of the governor to choose to form a coalition government and, much less, with the way in which the cabinet would be integrated.

In accordance with the electoral legislation, the promise to form a coalition government contained in the “Participation Agreement” is part of the pacts of the candidate with the coalition parties or of the common candidacy and, as such, it is a political commitment with the electorate that, without a doubt, should be honored by the candidate. It is a political agreement – not a legal one – that is part of the campaign offer and that is valid within the commitments that seek democratic governance.

But the distribution of the positions of the cabinet and other dependencies of the coalition government contained in the agreement does not constitute an obligation that legally binds whoever is elected, especially when the agreements on the distribution between the coalition parties of the positions in the future government They will not be made public before the election, so that part of the agreement cannot be considered a commitment to the electorate because they are unaware of its content.

The Supreme Court resolved on January 23 the challenges to this electoral reform. Six of the eleven members of the Plenary of the Court voted for the invalidity of the norms that regulate the “Participation Agreement”. The majority considered that this legal figure is contrary to article 116 of the federal constitution because this modality of the coalition government should have been established in the local constitution. I agree with the criteria of the majority because it is a modality that substantially modifies the way in which the executive branch of the state is organized. However, since the eight votes required to invalidate it were not reached, the contested norm remains in force.

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With this decision of the Supreme Court, the way has been paved for the Va por el Estado de México coalition – made up of the PAN, the PRI, the PRD and the local party Nueva Alianza Estado de México – and the candidate Alejandra del Moral Vela formalize before the electoral authority the “Participation Agreement” that would define the integration of the coalition government in the State of Mexico, in the event that the PRI is the next governor of the State of Mexico.

But if a change in the correlation of forces or in the political conditions made it necessary to modify the integration of the coalition government agreed with the alliance parties and they did not accept it, compliance with the agreement and the validity of the norm on which it is based could be prosecuted before the local electoral court and, as indicated in the session of the Supreme Court, probably also before the Constitutional Chamber of the Judiciary of the State of Mexico to review the conformity or not of the electoral reform with the constitution of the state. Eventually the matter could reach the Federal Judiciary again.

If compliance with the agreement is prosecuted, it could unnecessarily present a post-election conflict between the parties of the winning electoral coalitionwhich could affect the formation of the coalition government and governability in the state.

The “Participation Agreement” linked to the integration of the coalition government denatures this legal figure as a parliamentary mechanism introduced into a presidential system. In parliamentary regimes, the negotiations for the formation of the coalition government are carried out after the election, once the citizens have defined the representation of the parties and the correlation of forces in parliament through their vote. The same happens, as a general rule, in presidential regimes in which the legal figure of the coalition government exists.

The agreement between the party leaders to distribute the positions in the coalition government before the election nullifies the negotiation between the legislative and executive powers that, by provision of the constitution and the law, must take place between the governor and the parties represented in congress after the elections, in parliamentary headquarters, to approve the coalition agreement and the government program and to ratify the members of the cabinet.

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In addition, the fact that the parties united in Va by the State of Mexico and the local electoral institute have decided, without any constitutional or legal basis, that the “Participation Agreement” will only be made public if Alejandra del Moral Vela wins the election and assumes the governorship, is a decision contrary to the principles of certainty and maximum publicity that must govern the exercise of the electoral function, especially when it is a matter of interest to the electorate to define in an informed manner the direction of their vote .

As provided by the state constitution and the regulatory law, and as happens in countries where this legal figure exists, the formation of the coalition government must be the product of parliamentary agreements based on the weight that the electorate gave to each party in legislative power and not of a distribution of quotas of power between the partisan leaderships, as part of a loot granted in advance to the leaders of the parties for obtaining power, without knowing what will be the effective contribution of votes of each party to the victory of the candidate

Constraining whoever is elected to an agreement in which it will be impossible to foresee all future political scenarios for which it might be convenient or necessary to modify the composition of the cabinet, or even terminate the coalition government, undermines the function of this form of government as an instrument of democratic governance and is a potential source of political conflict for the future government.

We are before the first steps to advance in the urgent change of the presidential system. The reengineering of the political regime must guarantee that the legal figure of the coalition government does not introduce unnecessary distortions in the form of government. The aim is to contribute to democratic governance with a more efficient mechanism for the collaboration of powers and with a better system of checks and balances, not to generate tensions between the executive, the legislature and the political forces, which lead to potential political conflicts and even constitutional crises.

* Article 77, section XLVIII

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