News / Americas

Mexican Conservatives Show Openness to Reform

A protester holds a symbolic coffin reading 'democracy,' Sept. 1, 2012.
A protester holds a symbolic coffin reading 'democracy,' Sept. 1, 2012.
Reuters
— Mexico's main opposition party has signaled it is ready to compromise over demands for electoral reform that risk impeding a government bill to liberalize the oil industry.
 
Last month, the conservative National Action Party (PAN) proposed an electoral reform that seeks to curb the power of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which has dominated Mexican politics for most of the past century.
 
Until a deal is reached to revamp the electoral system, the PAN said it would not back the government's plan to open up the oil industry to more private investment, which President Enrique Pena Nieto says is vital to reverse declining crude output.
 
However, Jose Maria Martinez, deputy leader of the PAN in the Senate, told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday his party was not drawing lines in the sand over the reform.
 
Among the PAN proposals are to introduce a second round run-off between first and second-place candidates in presidential elections. That would allow the opposition to join forces against the PRI, many of whose lawmakers are wary of the idea.
 
“There's nothing off the table for the PAN in terms of the discussion on electoral reform,” he said when asked if the second round run-off had to be part of the final bill. “We're completely prepared to debate point by point.”
 
It is far from clear the PAN would have enough support to force through a second round run-off.
 
Aside from resistance from the PRI, the Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD), the main leftist opposition group, did not see eye-to-eye with the PAN on the run-off either, Martinez said.
 
Pena Nieto is hoping to pass his energy reform this year, but the success of his proposal is likely to depend on support from the PAN because it contains constitutional changes requiring a two-thirds majority in Congress to become law.
 
At the same time, the president is scrambling to push through a fiscal reform tied to the 2014 budget, a package which only has until mid-November to be approved.
 
Failure to pass the electoral reform risks creating a logjam in Congress that could seriously hamper the president's efforts to ramp up growth in the Mexican economy, which has averaged barely 2 percent since the start of the millennium.
 
Consensus forming

In 2000, the PAN broke the PRI's 71-year hold on power with the election of Vicente Fox as president.
 
Nonetheless, in opposition, the PRI remained a potent force, helping to thwart many efforts to change the country by Fox and his PAN successor Felipe Calderon, before the party recaptured the presidency with Pena Nieto last year.
 
Opposition parties have sought to change the electoral system to improve their chance against the PRI, which has always governed at least half of the states in the country.
 
The PRI's failure to secure a majority in Congress last year presented the opposition with an opportunity as Pena Nieto sought help from his rivals to push through economic reforms.
 
Sealing a joint pact with opposition leaders to work together on revamping Latin America's second biggest economy, Pena Nieto also agreed to help pass an electoral reform.
 
Martinez said early talks between the parties suggested Congress should be able to pass key elements of the PAN plan, such as allowing direct re-election of federal lawmakers, who at present are barred by law from serving consecutive terms.
 
“At this moment, we're seeing the possibility of reaching a concrete deal on the re-election of lower house deputies and senators for one term,” he said, noting that there might still be scope to agree on a higher number of re-election periods.
 
Critics of the PRI say that prohibiting re-election has historically enabled the party, not voters, to have the biggest say on who sits in Congress.
 
Still, Martinez said the PRI was also “well disposed” towards the PAN's proposal of raising the minimum threshold required for a party to enter Congress to five percent of the national vote from two percent now.
 
The current threshold has been abused by some smaller parties, Martinez said, arguing that they took advantage of generous political funding to operate as “businesses”.
 
Based on the results of the 2012 federal elections, the proposed change would cut the parties in Congress to four from seven, with Mexico's Greens, coalition allies of the PRI, the fourth largest power with around six percent of the vote.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Planning Post-2015 Development

UNDP official calls for investing in people
More

Magnitude 6.3 Quake hits Mexico, No Major Damages, Injuries

Earthquake hit southwest of Juan Rodriguez, in eastern Mexican state of Veracruz at a depth of 95 km (60 miles), the US Geological Survey says
More

California Governor on 3-day Trade Trip to Mexico

With immigration facilities bursting at the seams, Jerry Brown says child migration is on the agenda during his trade visit
More

UN Sanctions Operator of N. Korean Ship Caught Smuggling Arms

North Korean ship Chong Chon Gang was detained a year ago carrying arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters, under thousands of tons of sugar
More

Argentina Seeks to Avoid 2nd Debt Default in 13 Years

Argentina says it will make another effort to reach a deal with a group of US creditors
More

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surge

Inaccurate claims suggest US will give amnesty to young migrants
More