Let’s talk about Mexican political vocabulary. No, no, before you fall asleep OR get all intenso (intense) we won’t talk about political preferences! I will teach you about the most important politics in Spanish vocabulary though, and tell you a bit about how politics work here in Mexico.
This way you’ll be prepared for your next political debate with your Mexican friend, and you’ll do it in Spanish por supuesto (of course).
1. Political Organization
Mexico is a Federal Republic. Like in many other countries there is a division of power: the executive, headed by the President, El Presidente, ¡el presi pa´los cuates! (The President, “The Presi” for friends) who is both Jefe de Estado and Jefe de Gobierno. (Head of State and Head of Government.) There is no Vice President in Mexico and also, the spouse of the President doesn’t go by the title of Primera Dama (First Lady.) She’s a doctor, though.
A diferencia de Estados Unidos en donde tienen un Colegio Electoral, las elecciones en México se dan por voto directo y popular. (Unlike the United States where you have an Electoral College, in Mexico, elections take place via direct and popular vote.) Our president and most of our congress people are chosen according to the principle of mayoría relativa, (relative majority or plurality.)
En México no hay reelección presidencial, les voy a contar más sobre esto en un momentito.
(In Mexico there’s no presidential re-election. I will tell you more about this in a bit.)
The head of the judiciary es la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation). Which like all the Federal Powers is headquartered in Mexico City.
El poder legislativo está en manos del Congreso de la Unión, que a su vez está dividido en la Cámara de Senadores y en la Cámara de Diputados. (The legislative power is in the hands of the Congress of the Union which at the same time is divided in the Chamber of Senators and the Chamber of Deputies.)
Fun fact, if you were to visit both the Mexican Senate and the Supreme Court today, you might end up dazed and giggly by a cloud of smoke emanating from a permanent protest in favor of the rights of cannabis users. So avoid it at all costs.
2. Election day and voting
Our national electoral authority is the Instituto Nacional Electoral o INE pa’ los cuates. (National Electoral Institute, INE for buddies.) When you turn 18, the INE gives you this: La credencial de elector. (The electoral card.)
La credencial de elector. This is the one and only form of ID that is accepted when we go voting, and it’s also the preferred form of ID through our amazing and efficient bureaucracy.
También está establecido en la Constitución, que para celebrar que ya tienes tu INE, que es cómo le decimos coloquialmente a la credencial de elector, (Also it is written in the Constitution, that to celebrate having your INE, which is the way we call it colloquially to the electoral card) tiene que salir a festejar y beber grandes cantidades de alcohol. No lo digo yo, está en la Constitución. (You have to go out and celebrate and have enormous amounts of alcohol. It’s not me saying it, it is in the Constitution.)
El día de las elecciones siempre es domingo. (Election day is always on a Sunday.) You must check which booth you’re supposed to vote in, we don’t have electronic voting, and we only had voting from abroad starting in the 2018 Presidential election.
Cuando votamos, nos marcan el pulgar con una tinta indeleble, para mostrar pues que ya votamos. (When we vote, they mark our thumbs with an indelible tincture, to show that we have voted.) Many stores and restaurants give freebies away for those who show their marked thumb. Like ya voté, ya voté. (I voted already, I vote already.) Chunks que vas a escuchar cuando hay elecciones en México:
- ¿Ya votaste? Sí, ya voté. (Have you voted already? Yes, I already voted.)
- ¿Ya votaste? No, yo no voto. ¿Para qué? (Have you voted already? No, I don’t vote, what for?)
- ¿Por quién votaste? El voto es libre y secreto.(Who did you vote for? The vote is free and secrete.)
- Todos los políticos son iguales. (All politicians are the same.)
- ¡Pinches políticos! (Damn politicians!)
- Yo no voto por el partido sino por el candidato. (I don’t vote for the party but for the candidate.)
- Yo no voto por el candidato sino por el partido. (I don’t vote for the candidate but for the party.)
3. ¡Que viva Pancho Villa!
Para entender la situación política actual de mi México lindo y querido, tienes que saber un poco de historia. Ven conmigo al principio del siglo XX cuando el pueblo mexicano estaba medio harto de este varón: (To understand the current political situation of my beautiful and beloved Mexico, you have to know a little bit about history. Come with me back to the early XX century when the Mexican people were fed up with this guy:)
Though he arguably did great things to pacify and advance our nation, he stayed in power for too freaking long, 33 years! A whole period of Mexican history is named after him! El porfiriato.
Repite después de mí: El porfiriato fue de 1876 a 1911. (Repeat after me: The Porfiriato was from 1876 to 1911.)
During his long presidency (or dictatorship actually) he coined a phrase that every Mexican knows, remember this was in a time when relations between Mexico and the US weren’t that great:
Pobre México tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de Estados Unidos. (Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States.)
Have you heard this phrase before? Let me know in the comments! You know I love to read them!!!
Challenging the continuous reelection of Porfirio Díaz, came along Francisco I. Madero, a wealthy landowner with big dreams of social justice, with a campaign based on the motto that’s also known by every Mexican since we’re like in the 4th grade:
Sufragio efectivo, no reelección. (Effective suffrage and no re-election.)
Sufragio significa voto. (Suffrage means vote.)
¿Y qué creen? ¡Madero ganó la elección! ¡Sí!¡La democracia parecía estar al alcance de la mano! Sí, pero, obviamente los que apoyaban al antigua regime no iba a dejar que Madero ganara así como así. (And guess what? Madero won the election! Yes! Democracy seemed to be at the reach of a hand. Yes, but obviously the ones that supported the old regime wouldn’t let Madero win just like that.)
Así como así (just like that) did you get that? I love this Spanish chunk. It’s the Mexican equivalent of expressions like “just like that” or “not so easily” … Alright so, in a period called La Decena Trágica he was assassinated along with his Vice President Pino Suárez. Francisco I Madero y su vicepresidente, porque en esa época México sí tenía vicepresidentes. El vicepresidente de Madero se llamaba Pino Suarez. ¿Y qué creen? Los mataron, los asesinaron. (Madero and his vice president, because at that time Mexico did have vice presidents. Madero’s vice president was named Pino Suarez. And what do you think? They were killed, they were murdered.)
Madero y Pino Suáre son considerados héroes de nuestra democracia y, gracias a su influencia, los mexicanos somos casi alérgicos a la idea de la re-elección presidencial. (Madero and Pino Suáre are considered heroes of our democracy, and thanks to their influence, Mexicans are almost allergic to the idea of the presidential re-election.)
Madero y Pino Suárez sus vidas ofrendaron en aras de la patria por darnos libertad. ¡Revolución triunfante ya! (Madero and Pino Suárez offered their lives for the sake of the homeland to give us freedom. Revolution triumphant now!)
Francisco I. Madero was instrumental in starting the Mexican Revolution. Much of the imagery that is internationally associated with being Mexican, like el sombrero y los bigotes (sombrero and mustache) actually comes from the aesthetics of the Mexican Revolution and also, many mottos than you’ll keep seeing through Mexico:
- Tierra y Libertad (Land and Liberty.)
- Sufragio efectivo no reelección (Effective suffrage non re-election.)
- La tierra es de quien la trabaja. (Land belongs to the one who works it.)
4. Current Political Panorama
Después del asesinato de Madero y Pino Suárez, se formó el Ejército Constitucionalista. En esa época surgieron varios caudillos. Entre ellos, los famosos Francisco Villa o Pancho Villa y en el sur Emiliano Zapata.
¿Sabías que? ¿Pancho Villa invadió los Estados Unidos? ¡Sí! ¡Invadió Columbus, New Mexico en 1916!
(After the assassination of Madero and Pino Suárez, The Constitutionalist Army was formed. In that time, many strong military leaders came about. Famously, Francisco Villa or Pancho Villa, and in the south, Emiliano Zapata.
Did you know? Pancho Villa’s army actually invaded the US? Yes! He did so in Columbus, New Mexico in 1916!)
The promulgation of the Constitution of 1917 is considered to have put an end to the Revolución Mexicana (Mexican Revolution.)
Our modern politics stem from the Mexican Revolution. The winners started a series of parties that eventually became the el Partido de la Revolución Institucional, el PRI (the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution.) As contradictory as it may sound, in Mexico we institutionalized a revolution! El PRI remained in power for 70 years straight. Imagine in the presidential election of 1976 the PRI candidate ran unopposed! Actually, much of the current Mexican sense of politics comes from the fact that el PRI se mantuvo en el poder desde la época de la revolución hasta el año 2000. (PRI stayed in power from the time of the revolution until the year 2000.)
Comes the year of the Millenium, the big scary Y2K and guess what? The PRI loses to the PAN! El Partido Acción Nacional. (The National Action Party.) El PAN is a right wing, conservative party founded in 1939. By the way, PAN also means bread! What’s up with Mexican parties and their names!
Anyway, Mexicans went crazy! It was such a historic victory!! The guy that won was this guy:
Fox, incorporated lots of the marketing experience he acquired as a high rank executive in Coca-Cola Mexico and Latin America into his groundbreaking presidential campaign.
Por primera vez en la historia moderna de nuestro país, los mexicanos empezamos a pensar que sí podíamos confiar en las autoridades electorales. (For the first time in modern history of our country, Mexicans started to think that maybe we could trust our electoral authorities.)
After that we finally have had alternation in the presidential office and the trust in our electoral authorities has risen. Actually, they’re the third most trusted institution in the country, only after the military and the National Guard. Can you guess which is the least trusted?
Po-po! Yes! En México nadie confía en la policía. (In Mexico nobody trusts the police.)