The energy reform is moving apace. As you know, the PAN linked energy reform to political reform ... and so, political reform is also moving apace. It moved yesterday out of a Senate committee to the full floor, where it passed today by an overwhelming margin of 106 to 15.
So what was in this motherhood reform? You can find the text here, but it runs 244 pages. (You can also look for it here.) The constitutional changes themselves take up 35 pages. That’s a lot. Below, as a public service, we here at TPTM summarize the amendments for you. The constitutional reform of 2013:
Reforms Article 26 to create a “National Social Development Policy Evaluation Council,” which is probably as pointless as it sounds;
Reforms Article 29 to remove the ability of the Secretary of State or Attorney General to veto a presidential declaration of a state of emergency;
Reforms Article 35 to federalize election supervision by changing the name of the Federal Electoral Institue to the “National Electoral Institute,” which will now in be charge of state elections as well as federal. We are not doing this amendment justice, however — the changes are rather large and deserve a post of their own;
Reforms Article 54 to raise the threshold for a party to receive proportional-representation seats in Congress from 2% to 3%;
Reforms Article 59 to let senators serve two terms and deputies four, with no party-switching allowed;
Reforms Article 69 to require the President to submit a National Public Security Strategy to the Senate in his or her first year in office. (A reform to Article 76 says that if the Senate does nothing, then it should be considered approved);
Reforms Article 73 to require that electoral fraud be punishable by prison. More profoundly, should there be a “coalition government” (see reforms to Article 89 below) then Congress will gain the ability to approve all cabinet ministers save the heads of the Department of Defense (e.g., the Army) and the Department of the Navy;
Reforms Article 74 to make the finance minister require approval by a vote of the Chamber of Deputies;
Reforms Article 83 to shorten the lame-duck transition from five months to three, moving the date the president takes office from December 1 to October 1;
Reforms Article 89 to explicitly allow for coalition governments. It also states that cabinet nominees will assume office when they are nominated; should Congress fail to ratify their position they will then step down. The exact text of the new section is worth translating:
Section XVII: At whatever moment the President may opt for a coalition government with one or several of the political parties represented in the Congress of the Union. The coalition government shall be regulated by its respective convention and program, which shall be approved by a majority of the members present in each chamber of the Congress of the Union. The convention shall establish the causes under which the coalition government shall be dissolved.
Reforms Article 102 to make the Attorney General into an independent post appointed for a nine year term from a list of candidates approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate … although, contradictorily, it also allows the President to remove him or her at will subject only to getting one-third of Congress to agree;
Reforms Article 115 to allow county mayors to serve two terms, among other reforms designed to insure cleaner local elections.
We are unconvinced that the ease on re-election will have a transformative effect on Mexican politics, especially since California-style legislative term limits will remain in place. In fact, other than the federalization of all elections (something the United States should imitate) it is not clear that any of these changes are particularly major, save possibly the idea of the coalition government. (Which still seems a little odd.)
But perhaps we are wrong and this is bigger than it looks! Thoughts?