The Mexican Electoral Tribunal: This is no Bush v. Gore

Regarding the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF), Mexican political scientist José Antonio Crespo notes:

La calificación presidencial del año 2000 fue una prueba facilísima para el TEPJF, fue como pasar el kínder. Ahora, en este 2006, la calificación presidencial será para el TEPJF como su doctorado.

Indeed. (Roughly translated: In 2000, validating the election was as easy as passing kindergarten. In 2006, it will be like defending one’s doctorate.)

So, what is this body that now has the resolution of Mexico’s electoral dispute in its hands? It is a judicial body of last resort, charged with resolving election disputes and nothing else. Its Higher Chamber (Sala Superior) consists of seven magistrates who serve ten-year terms, expiring this October. (There are also five regional Salas of three members each.)

The terms of TEPJF magistrates are non-renewable. The body was established by the 1996 electoral reform (a constitutional amendment), and its members are elected by two-thirds vote of the Senate, from a terna, or list of three names (per vacancy), presented by the Supreme Court. (The Supreme Court justices themselves, since another constitutional reform in 1994, are also elected by a two-thirds vote of the Senate from a terna sent by the President, and serve for fifteen-year, non-renewable terms.)

The first TEPJ Sala Superior (which thus is the current one) was actually required to be elected by three fouths of the Senate, and in fact, all votes on these magistrates were unanimous.

In other words, the upcoming case is no Bush v. Gore.

Additional notes:

El Universal has a short profile of each magistrate. Some are career judges, others are academic law professors.

The TEPJF itself has an English-language page that explains its role and also offers profiles of the magistrates.

It is worth noting that the Tribunal is sometimes referred to as the “TRIFE,” after the name of the tribunal that was in place in the early 1990s. The older acronym, often written Trife, is still used, presumably because “Tepjf” is not pronounceable!

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