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

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

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

Brazil's Rousseff Races to Contain Congressional Revolt Over Austerity

President meets with legislative leaders from her coalition after they unexpectedly reject presidential decree to raise payroll taxes, help close large budget gap
More

Prosecutor Appeals Dismissal of Complaint Against Argentine Leader

President was accused, by investigator later found dead, of trying to whitewash Iran's alleged involvement in 1994 Buenos Aires bombing
More

Maduro Reprisal Could Clog US Visa Process in Venezuela

President's order to slash US embassy staff will hit consular section, which in 2014 processed 232,500 applications
More

Mexico Captures Zetas Drug Kingpin in Another Blow to Cartels

Arrest is second high-profile capture of a kingpin in past week and a boost to President Enrique Pena Nieto's efforts to battle organized crime
More

Colombia Detains China Cosco Shipping Vessel Over Illegal Arms

The detained vessel, operated by Cosco Shipping Co Ltd, was headed for Cuba when it was stopped; the illegal cargo was detected during an inspection
More

Weapons Found on Chinese-Flagged, Cuba-Bound Ship

Authorities in Cartegena, Colombia, detained ship Saturday; captain faces trafficking charges
More