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mexico-political-mapPopulation:  120,847,477

HDI ranking: 61/187

HDI score: 0.775

Since the early 2000’s, Mexico has created multiple programs to spearhead decentralization: coordination of rural development, creating institutional platforms, and appropriately portioning funds (World Bank, 2006).

Local governance at a glance

  • Mexico has 31 States and 1 Federal District (Mexico City). States are divided into 2,477 municipalities governed by Municipal Councils (Ayuntamiento) and headed by a mayor (SudHistoria, 2011).
  • In Oaxaca, 412 municipalities have traditional indigenous leadership selection and community assemblies. Since 2005, only 12% of municipalities used secret ballots (AU, 2005).
  • The Secretary of Governance, or Ministry of Interior, is responsible for local government (SEGOB, 2012).
  • Gender quotas are regulated by each state. Article 41 of the Federal Constitution requires that political parties create rules to ensure gender equality on electoral lists (Quota Project, 2014).

Civil society actors

Capacity building institutions

Fiscal Control

  • The majority of public funds spent on rural areas come from federal sources, and the capacity of state governments to influence the allocation of these funds is small. Their ability to shape the objectives and rules under which rural programs operate in their states is also very limited. State governments can in some occasions negotiate and agree with central authorities the distribution of resources among sub‐programs of a certain program (World Bank, 2006).
  • Subnational finances are characterized by limited local revenue collection (less than 10% of state revenues on average) and therefore depend heavily on federal transfers (IDB, 2010).
  •  Local governments are assigned urban property and car registration taxes, but are not allowed to implement their own tax system (UCLG, 2010).
  • Local government expenditures account for 6.5% of total government expenditure, which is 2% of GDP (UCLG, 2010).

Key initiatives

  • President De la Madrid instituted decentralization reforms in the 1980s, expanding the policy and regulatory roles of municipios, though financial autonomy remained limited (SudHistoria, 2011).
  •  The 2001 Ley de Desarrollo Rural Sustentable (LDRS) was a step forward in decentralization to the extent that it created institutional platforms, like state, district, and municipal rural development councils. LDRS also mandates the signing of convenios between federal secretarías and the states to implement sectoral programs. Furthermore, the operation rules of Alianza have strengthened the state and municipal councils by making active use of them for program management (World Bank, 2006).
  • In June 2002, legislation was issued mandating the preparation of a Programa Especial Concurrente (PEC) to coordinate rural development (RD) actions of relevant secretariats (World Bank, 2006).
  • SAGARPA’s Alianza Contigo (Alianza) program has been at the forefront of decentralization. For example, Alianza funds, which used to be allocated according to bilateral negotiations between SAGARPA and the states, started being apportioned according to an objective formula in 2001 (World Bank, 2006).
  • Strengthening public finance at the federal, district and municipio levels is one of four primary areas of focus for the Government of Mexico and the Inter-American Development Bank joint country strategy. Furthermore, the Bank will support its work in social protection, education, labor, transportation, clean water and sanitation, and climate change response with state and municipal initiatives (IDB, 2010).

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • There is limited participation by civil society and a need for citizen education as government information is not readily available (online) (World Bank, 2007).
  • Subnational governments are weak in their strategic planning, procurement, financial management, collection of locally raised revenues, capacities to develop investment projects, monitoring, and dissemination of outcomes (IDB, 2010).
  • Some municipal governments lack basic capacities, such as police forces and the ability to govern effectively (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2014).
  • Authorities have enacted a number of regulations, executive orders, and laws to modernize public management, improve the quality of expenditure, evaluate ongoing investments and programs, and provide transparency as to the use of public funds. This wideranging modernization has yet to materialize. Subnational governments in particular are hampered by weaknesses in areas such as strategic planning, procurement, financial management, collection of locally raised revenues, capacities to develop viable investment projects, monitoring, and dissemination of outcomes. The Inter-American Development Bank has been working to reform tax administration and build capacity at the local level to increase tax receipts and management (IDB, 2010).

List of sources:

American University Department of Government (AU), 2005: “Elections by Customary Law in Oaxaca, Mexico.”

Association of Local Authorities of Mexico (AALMAC), 2011:

Association of Municipalities in Mexico (AN MAC), 2014:

Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2014: “Sustainable Government Indicators (SGI). 2014 Mexico Report.”

Comités Técnicos of the Fideicomisos, 2009:

Consejos Estatale Desarrollo Rural Sustentable (CEDERS):

Inter­American Development Bank (IDB), 2010: “Mexico.”

The Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy (REDLAD), 2014:

National Federation of Municipalities in Mexico (FENAMM), 2014:

Observatorio Ciudadano, n.d.:

Quota Project, 2014: “Mexico.”

Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), 2013:

Secretary of Governance (SEGOB), 2012:

SudHistoria, 2011: “Corruption, Decentralisation and Caciquismo in Mexico in the last decade.”

United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), 2010: “Local Government Finance: The Challenges of the 21st Century.”

World Bank, 2006: “Mexico: Decentralization of Rural Development Programs.”

World Bank, 2007: “The Federal Procurement System: Challenges and Opportunities.”