Checks and balances for Mexico in 2024 elections?

Estimated reading time: 4 mins approx.

Nearly 100 million Mexicans will go to the polls on June 2 to select a new president, and 20,708 elected positions. All 32 states will hold concurrent elections, making this the largest election in Mexico’s history. At the federal level, 128 senators & 500 members of the lower chamber will be elected, as well as eight governors, Mexico City’s Head of Government, 31 local congresses, 1802 municipal presidents and other local positions. These elections are important not only due to the sheer number of voters, or the fact that Mexico will have the first female president in its history, but also because the new government, Congress and the Supreme Court will define the country’s economic, social and political landscape over the next decade.

A new Presidenta will take office on 1 October, facing a wide range of opportunities and challenges. With a population of 130 million, Mexico is today the world’s twelfth-largest economy, and Latin America’s second. In 2023, Mexico dethroned China as the biggest exporter to the United States, and has great potential to attract investment from companies looking to relocate to North America. There is also a significant opportunity to spread benefits of nearshoring and trade, strengthening value chain linkages. Following a rise in Mexico’s government debt, slowing growth and a strong peso that has hurt exports, the new Presidenta will face the biggest budget imbalance since the 1980s, and will need to reduce the country’s fiscal deficit, face the implications of pension reforms, and redefine its reliance on Pemex.

The composition of Congress will determine the degree with which the future Presidenta can advance policy initiatives. On 5 February 2024, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (commonly known as AMLO) submitted a package of 18 constitutional bills and two legal reform initiatives to Congress. These legislative proposals covered a wide range of issues, from social programmes to pensions and the energy sector. Some of these proposals aim to address important social demands, including the rights of indigenous and Afro-Mexican communities. At the institutional level, AMLO is pursuing changes to the political-electoral system; an initiative for Supreme Court justices to be elected by popular vote, as well as eliminating various autonomous oversight constitutional (Transparency Institute (INAI), etc.) and regulatory bodies.

In December 2024, the new Presidenta will be responsible for nominating a new Supreme Court justice, which could shift the Court’s balance as a counterweight to the executive power. Since 1994, the Supreme Court has become a more visible actor and played a fundamental role as a constitutional arbiter in conflicts between branches and levels of government, deciding ground-breaking cases on key national issues. However, it remains to be seen what will happen with the president’s judicial reform initiative and its potential implications to judicial independence.

In terms of domestic affairs, the new government will need to put in place a more efficient security strategy, as cartel and political violence, disappearances and femicides remain a big concern. Likewise, it will need to address persistent inequality and combat extreme poverty and corruption; guarantee better access to public services such as healthcare, education, etc.; strengthen infrastructure planning and tackle climate change and water shortages, among other key areas. As economic growth is expected to slow down to 1.4% in 2025 according to the International Monetary Fund, the new Presidenta will need effective policies to sustain nearshoring and investment opportunities in order to ensure a more prosperous future for all Mexicans.

Finally, Mexico’s elections will also set the tone of its relations with northern and southern neighbours. Mexican and US elections are taking place five months apart. While both countries remain key trading partners, migration, border security and drug-trafficking will shape bilateral relations in the coming decade. The USMCA trade treaty is up for review in July 2026 when the parties will decide whether to extend the agreement for another 16 years. Monitoring disputes on labour, tariff-rate quotas, biotechnology and the resumption of private investments in clean energy and renewables will be fundamental factors for the USMCA’s negotiation. Mexico, the US and Canada will need to take actions and policies consistent with the commitments agreed to in the USMCA. While the US administration is most likely going to seek changes to the treaty as part of a joint review, Mexico and Canada would prefer to remove the threat of USMCA terminating in 2036. If the new government focuses these efforts strategically, we could witness Mexico’s rising geopolitical presence after years of international isolation.

From 25 April, Canning House will be holding the MEXICO 2024 SEMINAR SERIES in which academics from Nuffield College, Oxford and Escuela de Gobierno y Transformación Pública at Tecnológico de Monterrey and special guests will discuss different aspects of Mexico’s largest ever election.

Discover the series

Five Thursdays in a row, from 25 April, Canning House is holding a series of in-person and online seminars, tackling all aspects of Mexico's unprecedented, complex 2024 election. We're hearing from top academics and analysts, business leaders and experts, and getting the inside scoop on the politics behind the headlines.

Susana Berruecos

Susana joined Canning House in 2023 as its Head of Policy and Public Affairs. She has over 25 years of international affairs experience, including at the Mexican Senate and in a number of financial institutions. Susana received her PhD from the London School of Economics in 2010.

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