Date: Fri, 5 Apr 1996 20:34:23 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: MEXPAZ_analysis <>
Subject: MEXPAZ: Encouraging News for Political Reform

Encouraging News for Political Reform (Until Further Notice)

By David Crow, in MexPaz, No. 66,
3 April, 1996

If we are to believe recent indications, everything would appear to point toward decisive advancement in resolving Point No. 1 on the political reform agenda: electoral reform, and especially the referendum measure recently proposed by executive branch representative Emilio Chuayffet Chemor (Interior Secretary). Political parties and the Interior Secretariat began talks on the referendum, as well as other measures such as the plebiscite, both of which add up to the possibility that citizens submit their own bills and reforms to the national Congress. (El Financiero, March 28.) The proposed referendum would not only allow citizens to decide on Constitutional amendments, but also on executive decisions. (La Jornada, March 29.) However, such high-fallutin' talk will remain chin music until government and business elites truly commit themselves to democratic transition, above all, submitting the present economic model to popular approval.

But there are signs that the parties involved are getting down to brass tacks: the negotiating table has identified at least 15 constitutional articles that will need to be modified in the electoral reform process, including articles 35, 72, 89, 94 and 116. (La Jornada, March 29.) Without delving too deeply into arcane issues of constitutional law, reform of article 94 would put the Federal Electoral Tribune in the hands of the judicial branch (instead of the executive, where it currently resides), while Article 72, which specifies that legislative bills may be introduced by the Chief Executive, federal and state legislatures, would now add citizen organizations to that relatively restricted list. In addition, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Workers Party (PT) --the PAN is out of the picture for the moment--_suggested changes to articles 41 and 116, which have to do with protection of political rights. Significant consensus has been achieved with respect to equal media access, suffrage rights for Mexicans abroad (beginning with the 2000 elections) and shifting the Federal Electoral Tribune to the judicial branch. (La Jornada, April 3.) However, there is still dissent on autonomy of electoral agencies, composition of the Legislature with its complex mixture of direct and proportional representation, and appointment of the Federal Electoral Institute's (IFE) chief. But the signs are encouraging: the Interior Secretariat and the political parties (PRI, PRD, PT) all claim that there is 70% agreement with respect to electoral reform.

PRD president Porfirio Muñoz Ledo criticized an electoral reform package set forth by the PAN in the House of Deputies as "poor and weak," since it leaves "electoral organisms [the IFE] intact, doesn't change the system of congressional representation and doesn't address the struggle for resources." (La Jornada, April 3.) According to Muñoz Ledo, the goal is to achieve a more far-reaching electoral reform than that enacted during Salinas' term, where the PAN played a decisive role in negotiating various state governorships (the famous problem of "concertacessions"). There has been undeniable progress, in discursive terms, on electoral reform and political rights (see ANALYSIS #65, "Heartbeat of Mexico" for an extended discussion on the pros and cons of the referendum). Clean electoral processes, free from all doubt, is at the heart of all social demands for transparent and equitable elections. Nonetheless, there are still drawbacks which are prejudicing the reform process:

David Crow
Java Medina
Frontiers Comunes