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Electoral prosecutor, counselors and electoral magistrates cost to Mexican population almost 100 million pesos each year, even if their poor results have caused loss of legitimacy and credibility for institutions and electoral processes.

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The only noticeable effect of the “electoral democracy” shows in the remunerations paid to high-level civil servants responsible for watching out and punishing cleanliness and transparency in elections and political parties.

This bureaucracy competes for assigning itself the most ingenious, diverse and high incomes, under the supposition that they are deserved in virtue of the fragility and high level of specialization of their jobs.

More than the blurred democracy, what truly is expensive to the Mexican people are the managers of the electoral system, with their excessive earnings authorized by themselves.

Their ordinary monthly salaries are relatively elevated compared, for example, to the minimum wage of a working man: between 10 and 21 times higher.

Someone who perceives a minimum salary has to work between one and two years to accumulate the money a prosecutor, a magistrate, a counselor and everyone else in the electoral environment earn in a month. These people have accepted to profit from guaranteed compensations, ordinary and extraordinary incomes, risk bonuses and other diffuse compensations that turn imprecise the total amount.

Considering this excess and the social criticism that it provoked, in 2009, the amendment to the constitutional article 127 imposed a maximum limit to those earnings. The article establishes than no one must receive higher profits than the President of the Republic nor equal or higher that their superior’s, except when this surplus is consequence of many jobs or the general conditions of working, caused by a qualified technical job or by specialization in their job performance.  It also remarks that the sum of those retributions must not exceed half of the incomes established for the President of the Republic.

However, the presidential ceiling is elevated. It does not eliminates the abuse, preserves the pay gap and an unsolved a problem: the destiny of the compensations that exceed the President’s, for example, the incomes of the minister of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.

A ceiling too high.

Enrique Peña Nieto’s monthly-based salary for 2016 is 208.6 thousand pesos: 40.8 as ordinary salary and 167.8 thousand pesos as guaranteed compensation. His annual salary will be 2.5 million pesos; 489 thousand as salary and 2 million pesos as compensation. Adding up his benefits- social security, salary protection measures, insurance, funding and other remunerations-, 947.8 thousand pesos, the total income will be 3.5 million pesos.

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If we add the extra income for risks, 854 thousand pesos, the year’s total income raises to 4.3 million pesos: 358.4 thousand pesos monthly average.

The problem is that the presidential salary high ceiling remains low for the magistrates from the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF by its Spanish acronym: Constancio Carrasco (president), María del Carmen Alanís, Manuel González Oropeza, Flavio Galván, Salvador O. Nava and Pedro E. Penagos.

Under the assumption that law is not retroactive, the solution for magistrate’s income was to pay unequal salaries in identical occupations. The magistrates that joined TEPJF since late August 2009 have been “sacrificed”, as consequence of the new constitutional amendment. They work with lower remunerations than their coworkers: with 4.3 million pesos a year, 2.5 million less. Nevertheless, their incomes will be 3 thousand pesos higher than the President’s receipts.

In countries such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Russia or Ireland, the nominal salaries for executive power, ministers and other high-level civil servants were reduced in a symbolic range from 5 to 15 per cent and then freezed for many years. Besides, some sinecures were reduced or eliminated. The adjustment was voluntary, solidary and obligatory.

According to the records from TEPJF and the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP for its Spanish acronym), every magistrate earns more money than the chief of the executive power. Their tabular monthly-based salary is 382.9 thousand plus 58.2 thousand pesos as benefits and a 66.8 thousand pesos risk bond.

A magistrate’s salary is 4.6 million pesos a year, plus 681.9 thousand as benefits and 830.4 thousand as risk bond. Altogether, 6.8 million pesos, which is 63 per cent more (2.5 million pesos) than the integrated salary of the President of the Republic, 4.3 million a year. ¿What happened to the legal peak salary?

The annual gross pay of the seven magistrates will be 47.3 million pesos. In contrast, the 2016 budget for the National Center for Transplants  is 22 million pesos; 46 million for the National Commission Against Addictions; 51 millions for the National Institute of Geriatrics.

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National Electoral Institute’s salaries.

The National Electoral Institute (INE for its acronym in Spanish) is also “democratic” in their profits. These are equal for its president Lorenzo Córdoba and the 17 counselors, which receive a yearly gross earning (2016) of 4.2 million pesos. Of this total, 3.2 million represent their salaries (588 thousand pesos for salaries and 2.6 million for guaranteed compensations) and 967.9 thousand correspond to benefits: bonuses, vacation pay, cars, insurance, social security and private medical service.

Based on the principle of “rationality and budget discipline”, the counselors are benefited with a maximum of 11 thousand 970 pesos for food expenses, equivalent to 5 times the minimum salary.

Monthly, each counselor’s salary is from 49 thousand pesos, their guaranteed compensation from 213.6 thousand pesos (which sum 262.6 thousand pesos) and their revenues rise up to 81 thousand pesos: a total amount of 3.41.3 mil pesos.

Someone who perceives a minimum salary will need a year and 11 months to obtain the money a counselor receives in a month: 10 years is we consider the salary of a month and the guaranteed compensation of the counselor, and a little more than 13 years if we consider the other benefits of those electoral guardians.

In total, the 18 counselors earn 45 million pesos annually. Comparatively, this amount are a little more half the money assigned this year to education and indigenous culture: 87.8 million pesos.

According to the information available, the employees directly available to Córdova –about 40 people: personal assistants, receptionists, counselors, office boys, drivers- costs around 2.2 million pesos per month, equal to almost 32 thousand times the minimum salaries.

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The ugly duckling

The ugly duckling of the electoral system is Santiago Nieto Castillo, head of the Specialized Prosecutor for Electoral Offenses (FEPADE), dependent (?) of the Office of the General Prosecutor (PGR)

His monthly salary is barely of 23. 7 million monthly pesos, which with his guaranteed compensation of 166.3 thousand pesos, results in a gross base salary of 189.9 thousand pesos, 130 thousand pesos if we discount taxes.

If we add to his gross salary the benefits, the amount ascends to 260 thousand monthly pesos each month. Yearly, his income is 289 thousand pesos. However, with the guaranteed compensation, 2 million pesos, and his benefits, 841 thousand, the total remuneration of Nieto Castillo will be of 3.1 million pesos, equal to a little less than half the pay magistrates receive, 74 per cent of the counselors’ and 73 per cent of the President’s.

Marcos Chávez M.

Contralínea 490 / del 30 de Mayo al 04 de Junio 2016

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