Throughout history, we have seen that many countries across the globe are succeeding politically and some are living in a nightmare day by day. Some countries have better political participation, electoral processes, civil liberties, functioning governments, and a political culture. With all of these factors being analyzed, each country is then classified with the following: Full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime, and an authoritarian regime. According to the Democracy Index 2018, the global score for democracy has remained stable for the past 3 years. This shows that for the most part, all the countries with the expectations of some have remained the same politically throughout the years. But why does democracy succeed in some countries and fails in others? In this paper, I will be analyzing Canada’s and Mexico’s political system, civil liberties, policy and governance performance and institutional issues that lead to their success or failure in democracy.
Canada’s History/Political System
The Constitution Act of Canada was first written in 1867(formerly called the British North America Act 1867 and was renamed in 1982 with the patriation of the Canadian constitution to Canada. The constitution defines the system of government that includes the federal structure, its bicameral legislation, judicial system, and its taxation system. Canada has a monarchy in which the Head of State is the monarch of the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II. The monarch exercises its power through a Governor-General at the Federal Level. This Governor-General is then advised by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. However, the head of the executive is the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons and is the one that appoints its cabinet members.
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Canada’s political system consist of two chambers with them being the lower chamber and the upper chamber. The lower chamber is the House of Commons, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament. These individuals are elected by the first-past-the-post system in each of their electoral districts and are distributed proportionally to the population of each province and territory. This chamber is more powerful than the upper chamber. In the other hand, the upper chamber is known as the Senate. This chamber consists of 105 members which are appointed by the Governor-General on the Advice of the Prime Minister. There are four major regions with each getting 24 seats, and the nine that remain are then distributed to the smaller regions.
Furthermore, Canada only has five political parties that are currently in legislation being representing: The Liberal Party (Centre and Centre-Left), The Conservative Party (Right of the Political Spectrum), The New Democratic Party (Social Democratic), The Bloc Quebecois, and The Green Party. All of these parties have different ideologies and a different way of working. The Members of Parliament are expected to vote along their party lines otherwise they will have some explaining to do.
Finally, Canada’s Supreme Court is the highest court and has the final saying in any civil, criminal or constitution issue. There are nine members that are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. The justices could serve until the age of 75 and then retire peacefully. Overall, in each of Canada’s provinces there is a court system, but if the issue is not resolved there, then it will come to the Supreme Court which will be having the final saying.
Mexico’s History/Political System
Mexico gained its independence in 1821 and has numerous of constitutions throughout. Mexico’s constitution exemplifies its history and political system. For instance, its longest lasting constitution aside from the one that is currently in place and adopted in 1917 has been the one from 1857-1917. This constitution has 137 articles that defines citizenship, organize the government, mandate land reform, and basic human rights for all Mexicans. The Mexican Constitution reflects those experiences that the Mexican people went through the Revolution. For example, Article 27 of the constitution states that any land that was taken from the people during the Porfiriato had to be returned. Also, Article 123 established an 8-hour workday with a minimum wage and equal pay for equal work for its people. The Mexican constitution set the standards that its own people wanted to live. Even though they had gone through a lot, they wanted to try living a normal life once again with their property and basic rights given to them.
Furthermore, Mexico currently has a Presidential system of government in place with three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The Executive Branch is headed by the President of Mexico, which is the Head of Government, Head of State, and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The President appoints its own cabinet/officers and is responsible for executing the law, but at the same time he has the power to veto any bill that comes to his desk.
The Legislative Branch on the other hand is made up by a bicameral Federal Congress which is divided into the Lower House and the Upper House. Mexico’s Congress makes all of its federal laws, declares war, approves the national budget international treaties, etc. Currently there are 500 deputies in the Lower House with 300 being elected by a majority vote and 200 elected by proportional representation. The Upper House (Senate) is made up of 128 senators with 64 being elected by a majority vote, 32 first runner up, and the final 32 elected by proportional representation.
Also, Mexico has three major political parties with them being the following: The Institutional Revolutionary Party, The National Action Party, and The Party of the Democratic Revolution. Out of the three, The Institutional Revolutionary Party has been the most successful with winning every state governor race until 1989, the most seats in the Chamber of Deputies and in many more elections. All of these parties have their differences, but each one is represented in Mexican politics.
Overall, the Supreme Court is the head of the Mexican judicial system. This is comprised of 11 members who are nominated by the President and with an approval of 2/3 of the Senate. Each member of the court serves for a limit of 15 years or less if the justice reaches the mandatory retirement age. Overall, the Supreme Court’s responsibility is to rule based on the constitutionality of the laws and making sure the people follow the law accordingly.
Canada’s Civil Liberties
To begin with, one of the main reasons why Canada has been very successful in its democracy has been due to the civil liberties. According to the Freedom in the World 2019, Canada received 59/60 when research was conducted in Freedom of Expression and Belief, Associational and Organizational rights, Rule of Law, and in Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights. For instance, Canada’s media are generally free to express what they need to say. All of their journalists are mostly protected from violence and harassment in their work. The Canadian Constitution also protects due process rights, freedom of assembly and freedom of movement to its people. Furthermore, the Canadian government is always on the works to make sure its people are living a very comfortable and safe life. Canada has legalized same sex marriage in 2005 and has made lots of efforts to enforce equal rights and protection for minority groups. Lastly, Canada gives trade unions and business association to operate freely and have discussions in regard to policy.
Mexico’s Civil Liberties
On the other hand, Mexico received a score of 36/60 according to The Freedom in the World 2019. This is one reason why Mexico has a flawed democracy. For example, the security environment for many of the journalists in Mexico is extremely dangerous. Many of these journalists are afraid of publishing their stories because they are afraid that the criminals will come to them and retaliate. Also, Mexico’s government is working on implanting a safe environment for its news coverage personnel, but they are always being harassed and threatened. Another important issue in Mexico are its trade unions. There are so many nontransparent negotiations that occur, which affects the people that are working for these groups. Lastly, the rule of law is one of Mexico’s biggest flaws. For instance, in Mexico’s justice system there is so much corruption happening. The lower courts and law enforcement are used given money under the table, which affects the process. When something has to get done, it is usually delayed or something out of nowhere occurs. There is also a lack of accountability for rights abuses that are committed by those individuals that are doing harm. Lots of these are sent to prison, but in prison is where all the crimes are being organized. Overall, the government of Mexico tries to make a difference, but in reality, there is so much corruption occurring in its government that its own people are paying for the consequences.
Canada’s Policy and Governance Performance
According to the Sustainable Governance Indicators, Canada’s economy has been increasing at a faster speed than it did in the previous years. The government has increased its infrastructure spending and has created a vast majority of jobs for its people. Canada has implemented lots of social policies that has provided a high-quality education for its people, as well as universal health care for everyone. Canada has also provided funding for programs all across the country to help bring that gap of education among indigenous and minority individuals. Another very important thing that has helped Canada on top has been there skilled and competitively government officials. These individuals work tireless in policymaking and have been very transparent with their own people. In the end, Canada’s Parliamentary oversight powers are extremely strong. The people that are working in parliament are always making decisions that are backed up by evidence and close research that whatever will be decided is for the best of the people.
Mexico’s Policy and Governance Performance
Mexico on the other hand, has ranked poorly (#36) according to the Sustainable Governance Indicators. Mexico has had a decline in oil prices and relationship with his biggest ally has not been the best. Trump’s relationship has led Mexico to slowdown in growth, greater inflation and a rising debt. Another big problem is the public spending that is occurring. Mexico’s current debt has increased by more than 10%, bringing lots of problem to its people. Mexico is also fighting in social policies. Education are not the best even though there has been an increase in funding. Also, the quality of health care that is being provided to its people varies depending on your social class. This inequality has made lots of people not care about their health, which brings a huge health crisis to the country. When it comes to governance in Mexico, it falls into the lower middle ranks internationally. Even though the government tries to implement new policies, there are so many roadblocks such as insufficient funding and corruption among the politicians. Lastly, Mexico lacks on informing its citizens about key policies. With this being said, political participation in government is not the best in Mexico. Only those that have an education or are in a stable social class are aware. In the end, the people of Mexico usually set roadblocks themselves because they fear for their lives since the drug cartels are usually monitoring what they are doing. Overall, Mexico democracy is very flawed and seems like policy and governance is not going to be changing anytime soon.
Issues in Canada and Mexico that affects their democracy
Finally, Canada and Mexico do not have not a perfect democracy. According to the Human Rights Watch, Canada is still working on recognizing Indigenous rights and land title. Indigenous people have seen so many inequalities throughout their time in Canada and hope one day this will change. Also, we see in Canada lots of violence against indigenous women. These women have been on the fight to be treated equally and with respect. The government recently announced the implementation of a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women with the hopes of violence against them to decrease. Lastly, in Canada we have seen records of individuals that have been prosecuted due to their sexuality. Seeing this is definitely disgusting and the Canadian government needs to make a change on this. On the other hand, some key issues in Mexico has been Military Abuses, Disability Rights and Women’s and Girls rights. For example, the military is on a constant fight with drug related violence, but there have been many complaints of alleged abuses by these military personnel. The current president of Mexico has said that Mexico will be changing the constitution, but will this change really happen with all the roadblocks? Also, Mexican laws currently are not protecting individuals with disability in a way that they have not made any progress in giving them all the proper access to justice, legal standing, access to buildings, etc. Lastly, Mexican laws are not protecting women and girls against all domestic and sexual violence that is occurring. The UN has gotten involved because they saw no progress what so ever in the Mexican government. The UN has mandated the states in Mexico to help push for protection towards women and girls because they know they need to get involved, if not things wouldn’t change. Overall, there are issues in both Canada and Mexico that would help their democracy get better than it is currently. As we all know, everything is working progress, but an effort needs to made.
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