Major Political Reforms Proposed in Mexico

In the most dramatic proposal for political reform in decades, Mexican President Felipe Calderón announced yesterday a 10-point plan aimed at revamping Mexico’s political system. Among the many reforms, the proposal would allow independent candidates to run for office and relax term-limit rules for legislators, allowing lawmakers and mayors to hold office for up to 12 years.

The legislation would also reduce the number of seats in the chamber of deputies by 20 percent to 400 seats, and reduce the number of senators from 128 to 96. Calderón also included a provision that would require, for the first time, a runoff election in presidential races in which no candidate obtains more than 50 percent of total votes cast. If passed, the reforms would dramatically alter Mexican politics. According to Calderón, “the idea is to give citizens more power, to give them the capacity to shape public life and to strengthen our democracy.”

Reactions to the proposal have been mixed. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRIPartido Revolucionario Institucional) expressed its approval for most of the provisions, but refuted the need for runoffs in presidential races. The Democratic Revolution Party (PRDPartido de la Revolución Democrática) rejected the proposal altogether. Gustavo Madero (Gustavo Enrique Madero Muñoz), leader of the Senate’s National Action Party (PAN – Partido Acción Nacional) party, spoke highly of the proposed reforms, saying they present an opportunity to “leave behind formulas originated in the days of the monolithic PRI.”

Congress will officially debate the proposal in 2010.


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