The Renewed Federalism and Its Effects on the Represention of Women in Mexico
Representation, both in presence and in ideas is still a matter of utmost need in countries where sometimes women’s participation in politics is still questioned or limited. In the case of Mexico, both women’s presence and women’s interest are being limited, among other issues, by the institutional design. Two key situations are directly affecting women’s political participation in Mexico: the inequalities that have emerged in a rejuvenated federalism and the continual use of legal loopholes for the political benefit of the ruling elites. Each state has the legal right to select its own rules, including electoral ones. In this sense, different requirements, obligations and rights are placed for the citizens and the political parties to benefit from and comply with. This has resulted in different playing fields in which women’s representation is encouraged or detracted. The variety of laws and the constant changes to these has resulted in a number of legal loopholes, which both actors and parties have used to evade the application of tougher laws that boost the representation of women.
Representation is an essential part of a democratic regime and if representation is to be considered an intrinsic element of democracy, no system can claim to be democratic if it does not recognise the need for popular control and political equality. In Mexico, it would seem that in the representation of women has advanced in the past decade. In the last federal election process (July 2012), women advanced in the conquest of political spaces. The number of women elected to the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate exceeded what was achieved in previous processes. In the Chamber of Deputies 36.8% of the seats are occupied by women while in the Senate women have 34.67% of the seats. Previously women held 26.2% of the available seats (2009: 26.2%) while in 2006 there were only 112 women (22.4%). Nonetheless, the same optimistic scenario is yet to be observed homogeneously at the state level. In some states, women have lower percentages of representation in Congress. In Aguascalientes (7%), Queretaro (4%) and Estado de Mexico (15%) women are still a minority group among elected deputies (Camara de Diputados, 2012).
Published in Political Reflection Magazine Vol. 4 No. 1