Proposed changes to Mexico’s Constitution to change the political system could damage the representation of women in the national legislature. Mexico’s federal legislators are elected two ways: by district or by proportional representation. In the first way, a candidate wins the plurality of the vote in a single-member district (which is how the United States elects individuals to the House of Representatives). In proportional representation, the percent of votes each party gets nationwide determines the percentage of seats they get.
Currently, in the Chamber of Deputies 300 members are elected by district and 200 are chosen by proportional representation. The Senate has 128 members, of which one-fourth are chosen via proportional representation. The remaining three-fourths represent the individual states and the Federal District, which get three Senators each. The new reforms being proposed would decrease the number of legislators to only 400 Deputies and 96 Senators.
Obviously, this would decrease the number of female legislators as well. Some women’s organizations are concerned that this will hurt women’s representation, which has already been negatively affected by other matters. In the seven months since the last mid-term elections, 12 female legislators have announced their intention to resign (officially due to health or other reasons) and have given their seat to their alternate, often their spouse or another man.
This has decreased the number of women in the Chamber of Deputies to 128 and affected the ratio of men to women in Congress. Also, women’s groups have accused parties of circumventing electoral laws regarding female candidates. Despite denouncing this as violating the spirit of the law and being a step back for women’s representation, these groups have had limited success in advancing their claims.