Legislative Politics in Latin America

By Scott Morgenstern; Benito Nacif | Go to book overview

13
The Legal and Partisan Framework of the
Legislative Delegation of the Budget
in Mexico*
JEFFREY A. WELDON

The budget process in Mexico provides an excellent case study for how the party system interacts with constitutionally defined institutional relationships between the executive and legislative branches. The Constitution grants the Mexican Chamber of Deputies extraordinary powers over the budget. The Chamber has exclusive rights to approve the budget submitted by the president, and it may amend the budget. Moreover, according to the prevailing views of leading constitutional scholars, the president does not have the power to veto the budget.1 The outcome of the budget game in Mexico, however, does not reflect this institutional bias toward Congress. Between 1928 and 1999, the Chamber of Deputies always approved the budget sent by the president, usually without amendments, and only in the last year with amendments unacceptable to Hacienda (the finance ministry). Furthermore, the president has been delegated enormous discretion over where the money is actually spent, so that budget authorizations rarely correspond to the actual expenditures. No one in Mexico doubts that the only actor who has had any real influence over the budget is the executive. This is an emphatic result of the “metaconstitu-

____________________
1
Furthermore, the Chamber of Deputies has extensive powers to review expenditures ex post, an issue that is not addressed here. See Ugalde (1997b, 2000), and Mendoza (1996).
*
A preliminary version of this chapter was presented at the 94th Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, September 6–8, 1998. The author thanks Federico Estévez, Gerónimo Gutiérrez, and Scott Morgenstern for their helpful comments, and is grateful for the excellent research assistance of Alejandro Díaz Domínguez, Marco Antonio Fernández Martínez, Karen García Valdivia, Liliana González Pantoja, Fernanda Mora Zenteno, María del Carmen Nava Polina, Juan Antonio Rodríguez Zepeda, and Jorge Yáñez López. ITAM and the Instituto de Investigaciones Legislativas of the Cámara de Diputados provided funding for the research for the Enciclopedia Parlamentaria de México.

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