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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

US, Cuba Teams Discuss Telecommunications Issues

US delegation visited Cuba this week as the two nations continued efforts to restore diplomatic relations broken over 50 years ago
More

Egyptian Court Adjourns Trial of Al Jazeera Journalists to April 22

Two journalists are charged with aiding a terrorist organization, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt banned following 2013 army takeover
More

Rio Exhibition Dramatizes Olympian Bay Cleanup Task

Display highlights problem of trash in Guanabara Bay, where sailing, windsurfing events are to take place in next Summer Games
More

Chile Says Drought Permanent, Lays Out Water Plan

President Michelle Bachelet says government will invest in desalinization plants and reservoirs to ensure access to potable water
More

Poll: Venezuelan Leader's Popularity Inches Up to 25%

Rise comes after United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials
More

High Winds, Drought Feed Chilean Forest Fires

Blazes have ravaged swaths of China Muerta and Nalca Lolco reserves and Conguillio national park, revered for its ancient forests
More