|Former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda, who took the government to the Inter-American Human Rights Court over the issue of independent candidacies, called the political reform proposal “the most transcendental proposal since Salinas [called for] the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993.” “Without reforming the essential institutions of the old authoritarian priista regime, Mexico is paralyzed. The Mexican political system, ever since the PRI lost its majority the Chamber in 1997, hasn’t functioned. It doesn’t allow decisions to be taken, to innovate, nor confront the country’s challenges,” he wrote.
|Jesús Silva-Herzog Márquez called the President’s reform proposal “the most profound initiative for institutional reconstruction in contemporary Mexico.” He said the ‘most delicate’ proposal was the one for a presidential runoff and its alignment with the congressional elections, which he predicted would lead toward a two-party system, with disastrous consequences for the representation of third parties and democratic stability.
|Andrés Manuel López Obrador dismissed the proposals as “pure deception” intended to divert attention from the economic crisis and to sustain the oppression of the people by the “mafia of power, politics and money.”
Mexico state Governor Enrique Peña Nieto, the front runner for the 2012 PRI nomination, attacked re-election: “The history of our country has left clear lessons that whenever anyone tried to impose [re-election], the only thing that resulted was social upheaval.”
|PRI Senate leader Manlio Fabio Beltrones, who proposed his own set of political reforms in June, “welcomed” the initiative, while calling the proposals “incomplete.” He said that the moves would strengthen the Executive (a view shared by most observers) and needed to be balanced with other measures to maintain checks and balances. Beltrones supports re-election, reducing the size of Congress, and popular referendums for constitutional issues. He also advocates Senate ratification of cabinet officers, recall elections for elected officials, and greater accountability through a strengthened government audit agency.
As expected, the Senate confirmed Agustín Carstens as the next governor of the Banco de México. The vote was 81-19, with the PRD, PT, and Convergencia voting against.
President Felipe Calderón today proposed a set of sweeping political reforms, in a legislative package that was delivered to Congress on the last day of the regular session. The 10 point program includes:
1.-Consecutive re-election of mayors and Mexico City borough presidents for up to 12 years.
2.-Consecutive re-election of federal deputies and senators for up to 12 years.
3.-Reduce the size of the Senate to 96, from the current 128; reduce the Chamber of Deputies to 400 from the current 500.
4.-Add citizen initiatives as part of the legislative process.
5.-Allow for independent candidates for all elected positions.
6.-Have a second round in presidential elections, if no candidate reaches an absolute majority.
7.-Increase the minimum voting share from 2% to 4%, for parties to keep their registration and access to public financing.
8.-Empower the Supreme Court to present legislative initiatives in the area of the Judiciary.
9.-Empower the Executive to present at the beginning of each legislative session up to two law initiatives that Congress must vote on before the end of the session. In the event that Congress does not vote, the initiative will be considered passed. (For constitutional changes, they would be submitted to a citizen referendum.)
10.-Empower the Executive to make observations (partial or total) on the Income Law and Expenditure Law passed by the Congress.
Standard & Poor’s today downgraded Mexico’s sovereign rating by one notch, to BBB for foreign currency debt, and A for domestic currency debt. S&P also improved the outlook to ‘Stable’. According to their report,
The downgrades reflects our assessment that Mexico’s recent steps to raise non-oil revenues and improve efficiencies in the economy will likely be insufficient to compensate for the weakening of its fiscal profile. This weakening stems from a combination of modest GDP growth prospects and diminished oil production over the coming years. The revenue measures approved in the 2010 budget should address immediate concerns about fiscal vulnerability to volatile oil revenues. However, the inability to widen the tax base substantially, along with a low likelihood of major tax reform in the next several years, suggest that Mexico’s debt profile will remain more in line with that of its ‘BBB’ peers.
The rating action leaves Mexico one notch higher than Brazil and India (BBB-), equal to Russia, and below China (A+) among major emerging economies. Among the major countries in Latin America, only Chile (A+) has a higher sovereign rating.
The annual Latinbarómetro survey of attitudes toward democracy in 18 Latin American countries showed that Mexico had the lowest level of support for democracy of any of the countries surveyed. Only 62% of Mexicans agreed that “democracy was the best form of government,” compared to an average of 76% across the region. Across the region, support for democracy rose an average of 2% from last year, but in Mexico it fell 7%. When asked whether they would choose democracy or economic development without democracy, Mexicans had the fourth lowest preference for democracy (30%), compared to a regional average of 44%. (Reforma 12/12)