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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Mexico Captures Wanted Drug Kingpin Hector Beltran Leyva

Beltran Leyva is one of four brothers who allegedly headed a vicious Mexican drug cartel after it split with the Sinaloa cartel
More

Mother Says Former US Marine Needs Treatment, Not Mexican Prison

Jill Tahmooressi said son Andrew, 26, has been threatened by prison guards with rape, torture and execution since his arrest in March
More

Rio 2016 Olympics Progress Impressive, Says IOC in Change of Tone

Assessment, in stark contrast to ‘worst’ ever remark made by one committee member, comes after latest site inspection
More

Mexican Soldiers Face Murder Charges in 22 Deaths

Three soldiers charged with homicide in death of 22 suspected drug gang members who prosecutors allege were executed
More

Poll: Record Number of Mexicans Crime Victims in 2013

While government data shows murder rate has fallen in past 2 years, crimes such as kidnapping and extortion, which affect wider swath of the population, rise
More

OAS Asks Members to Take In Guantanamo Detainees

Organization of American States issues appeal for member countries to take in detainees from US military prison
More