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Cámara de Senadores (Senate)

Compare data for parliamentary chambers in the Oversight module


Parliament name (generic / translated) Congreso de la Unión / Congress of the Union
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name Cámara de Senadores
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Cámara de Diputados / Chamber of Deputies
Type of political regime presidential
Notes The President of the Republic is both the Head of State and the head of the executive.
Head of the executive President of the Republic
Notes The exercise of the supreme executive power of the Union is vested in a single individual who is designated President of Mexico (Article 80 of the Constitution). The post of prime minister does not exist.
Method for appointing the executive The President is directly elected by the people. His election is validated by the Federal Electoral Court, which informs the Chamber of Deputies of its decision. The President appoints ministers and other members of the Government, with the approval of the Senate. The President dismisses ministers whenever he considers this to be necessary.
Term of office of the executive and coincidence with the term of the legislature Senators are elected for a term of office of six years, which coincides with the term of office of the President, who assumes his or her duties on 1 December (Article 83 of the Constitution). A citizen who has held the office of President may in no case and for no reason again hold that office.
Incompatibility of the functions of member of the executive and member of Parliament Yes Parliamentarians cannot be members of the Government. Those who are appointed to government posts must ask the permission of Congress to leave its ranks for the term of their new appointment.
Dissolution of Parliament No
  • Circumstances
Not applicable
  • Modalities
Not applicable
Accountability of Government to Parliament No The Government is not directly responsible to Congress. However, Congress can exercise control over the actions of the Government by several means.
Modalities of oversight
  • Oral and written questions of parliamentarians
Every minister can be required by Congress to explain whatever issue is being discussed about the public administration, if parliamentarians deem it necessary.
  • Government reports to Parliament
The President informs Congress about the public administration every year by 1 September. The Senate discusses this issue in the following days, and can ask ministers to appear before it in order to give more details and answer questions.
  • Vote of confidence on Government programs and/or legislative proposals
Not applicable
Motions of censure and votes of no confidence (sub-report)
  • Circumstances
Not applicable
  • Modalites
Not applicable
  • Consequences
Not applicable
Dismissal and/or impeachment of Government and other public officials (sub-report)
  • Circumstances and persons concerned
Senators and deputies, magistrates of the Supreme Court, secretaries of State and the Attorney General are liable for common crimes that they may commit during, and also for crimes, offences, or omissions that they incur in the exercise of, their office (Article 108 of the Constitution). The President, during his term of office, may be impeached only for treason and serious common crimes.
  • Modalites and procedure
If the offence is of a common order, the Chamber of Deputies, acting as a grand jury, determines, by an absolute majority of votes of its total membership, whether or not there are grounds for proceeding against the accused. The Senate, constituted as a grand jury, takes cognisance of all official offences. In addition, any person has the right to denounce before the Chamber of Deputies the common or official offences of high officials. Whenever the Chamber finds that there are grounds for impeachment, it appoints a Committee from among its members to sustain before the Senate the charges brought. The President may request from the Chamber the removal, for bad conduct, of any members of the Supreme Court and of certain magistrates and judges.
  • Consequences
For offences of a common order, if the finding is negative, there are no grounds for any further proceedings. If the finding is affirmative, the accused is thereby suspended from office and is immediately subject to action by the ordinary courts, except in the case of the President, who may be impeached only before the Senate (as also in the case of an official offence). If after conducting such proceedings as deemed advisable and hearing the accused, the senators decide by a two-thirds majority that the accused is guilty, the latter is removed from office and disqualified from holding any other office for a certain period.

Whenever the law provides another penalty for the same act, the accused is placed at the disposal of the regular authorities, who judge and punish him or her according to such law. The decisions of the grand jury and the findings of the Chamber of Deputies are final. In the other cases, if the Chamber of Deputies first and the Senate thereafter decide by an absolute majority of votes that the request is justified, the accused official is removed from office immediately, independently of the legal liability that may have been incurred, and the executive proceeds with a new appointment.
  • Have these procedures been applied?
Oversight over the actions of the Government administration No The administration reports through its secretariats to internal government bodies. However, Congress can exercise some forms of control over the actions of the administration.
Means and modalities of oversight
  • Hearings in Committees
Committees of either chamber may summon state secretaries or heads of administrative departments for information, whenever a law is under discussion or a matter is being studied relating to their responsibilities (Article 93 of the Constitution).
  • Committees of inquiry and missions to Government departments
At the request of half of the senators, the Chamber has the power to form committees to investigate the operations of decentralised agencies and of enterprises in which the State has majority participation. The results of investigations are made known to the executive.
  • Oral and written questions of parliamentarians
The rules for the appearance of civil servants in Congress establish that in a first phase, the civil servant exposes the state of his respective branch for 20 minutes. Thereafter, a representative of each parliamentary group speaks for 10 minutes in order to establish the position of the group with respect to the subject. After this round of positioning, the civil servant again makes pertinent comments for 10 minutes.

One or two rounds of oral questions and retorts follow the positioning, according to the procedure in which (i) each parliamentary group raises a question for no longer than four minutes, (ii) the civil servant responds to the questions for no longer than eight minutes, and (iii) the parliamentary group has the right to respond for up to four minutes. Once this stage is concluded, the civil servant will direct to the Assembly a final message of up to 10 minutes. The Speaker concludes the appearance with an institutional message of not more than 10 minutes. Sometimes, even before the initial arrangements are exposed, there arise debates between participants.
  • Role of Parliament in the appointment of senior Government officials
The President appoints senior government officers and the Senate ratifies these appointments.
  • Activity reports of the Government administration and of public services or establishments
State secretaries give, as soon as the regular period of sessions is opened, a report to Congress on the state of their respective branches (Article 93 of the Constitution).
  • Representation of Parliament in governing bodies of the Government administration
Not applicable
Existence of an ombudsman Yes
  • Method for appointing the executive
The President of the National Commission of Human Rights is chosen for a five-year term by the vote of two thirds of the senators, or in its recess, by such a vote of the Permanent Committee of Congress. The Ombudsman is eligible for one reappointment.
  • Relationship to Parliament
The Ombudsman is accountable to Congress. The President of the Commission is obliged to present to the parliament an annual report on his/her activities. For this purpose, he/she has to appear before both chambers of the parliament and answer oral questions.
Consultation of Parliament in the preparation of the national budget No Not applicable
Modalities of oversight
  • Examination of the budget / finance act by Parliament
It is in the exclusive competence of the Chamber of Deputies to examine, debate and approve the annual budget of expenditures (Article 74 of the Constitution).
  • Reports on the budget / finance act by Committees
Not applicable
Fields overseen
  • Defence budget
Not applicable
  • Budget of special departments
Not applicable
  • Role of Parliament in national development plans
The executive is in charge of preparing and implementing national development plans. The parliament usually examines the document and gives its opinion.
Parliament's deadline for the examination and adoption of the budget / finance act Not applicable
Consequences of failure by Parliament to adopt the budget / finance act Not applicable
Budgetary autonomy of Parliament Yes Congress approves its own budget and has its own internal bodies that manage it.
Evaluation of Government spending
Parliament approves Government expenditures annually No Not applicable
Parliamentary oversight of public companies No Accounts of public companies are overseen by the Supreme Audit Institution, as well as by ad-hoc investigation committees.
Modalities of oversight
  • Body for auditing the Government's books and method for appointing
The body responsible for auditing the Government's books is the Supreme Audit Institution of the federation.
  • Reports of the public auditor's office
The office must present its annual report on the implementation of public accounts to the Chamber of Deputies no later than 31 March of the following year. However, it remains accountable to the executive.
  • Specialised committee
Not applicable
Foreign Relations Committee (sub-report)
  • Functions of the Committee
The whole Senate exercises oversight over foreign policy, and to a less specific extent its committees.
  • Powers of the Committee
Not available
  • Composition of the Committee
The composition of the committee reflects the numerical strength of each party in the parliament.
  • Bilateral visits of Parliament, inter-parliamentary conferences and information missions abroad
Not available
  • Plenary debates on foreign policy issues
There are numerous plenary sessions of the Senate that are dedicated to foreign policy issues. Once a year, Congress analyses foreign policy in its plenary. Also, the Senate receives the Minister of Foreign Affairs once a year to hear his annual report and have a debate with legislators.
Involvement of Parliament
  • Participation of Parliament in inter-governmental meetings
Parliamentarians may participate in inter-governmental meetings at the request of the Government.
  • Modalities and procedures for ratifying international treaties and agreements (sub-report)
The exclusive power of the Senate is to approve the treaties and diplomatic conventions made by the President with foreign powers (Article 76 of the Constitution).
  • Other mechanisms for participation in foreign policy by Parliament
In addition to the above, the Senate ratifies the appointments by the President of ministers, diplomatic agents, ambassadors, colonels and other superior chiefs of the national army, navy and air force.
National Defence Committee (sub-report)
  • Functions of the Committee
Not applicable
  • Powers of the Committee
Not applicable
  • Composition of the Committee
Not applicable
Parliamentary oversight of public arms manufacturing companies Not applicable
Circumstances and involvement
  • Modalities and procedures in case of war, an armed attack or a state of emergency
It is in the exclusive power of Congress to declare war, in the light of information submitted by the executive (Article 73.XII of the Constitution).
  • Role of Parliament in sending troops abroad
The Senate authorises the President to permit the departure of national troops beyond the borders of the country, the passage of foreign troops through the national territory, and the sojourn of squadrons of other powers for more than one month in territorial waters (Article 76 of the Constitution).
  • Other mechanisms for participation in national defence policy by Parliament
No other means in addition to the above.
Circumstances In the event of invasion, serious disturbance of the public peace, or any other event which may place society in great danger or conflict, only the President, with the consent of the Council of Ministers and with the approval of Congress (or during adjournments of the latter, of the Permanent Committee), may suspend throughout the country or in a determined place the guarantees which present an obstacle to a rapid and ready combating of the situation (Article 29 of the Constitution). The President must do so for a limited time, by means of general preventive measures, without such suspensions being limited to a specified individual.
Can parliament take the initiative to declare a state of emergency No
Consequences of a state of emergency for Parliament If the suspension occurs while Congress is in session, the latter grants such authorisations that it deems necessary to enable the executive to deal with the situation. If the suspension occurs during a period of adjournment, Congress is convoked without delay in order to grant these authorisations. However, two or more of the state powers may never be united in one single person or corporation, nor may the legislative power be vested in one individual, expect in the case of extraordinary powers granted to the executive in the cases specified above.
Modalities of oversight
  • Body ruling on the constitutionality of laws
Supreme Court / Tribunal The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation has exclusive jurisdiction in all controversies that arise between two or more constituent states of the federation, between the powers of a given state concerning the constitutionality of their acts, and in disputes between the federation and one or more constituent states, and in all those cases in which the federation is a party (Article 105 of the Constitution).
  • Means and procedures
The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, in the cases prescribed by law, hears cases involving claims of a possible contradiction between a norm of general character and the Constitution (Article 105.II of the Constitution).
Evaluation of laws No Parliamentary committees may, in case they realise that a law is not correctly applied, propose a legal reform to the Government.

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