In a bid to prevent a potential PAN-PRD alliance from winning the governorship of the State of Mexico in next July’s election, the state Congress voted 52-21 to abolish the legal figure of “candidates in common” that allowed multiple parties to put forward a common candidate. The measure was supported by the PRI, PVEM, Panal, Covergencia, and Social Democratic parties, and opposed by the PAN and PRD. As a constitutional measure, it will need to be approved by a majority of the state’s municipal governments prior to October 3 in order to become effective for the July 2011 elections. Parties could still form coalitions, which would require them to have a common platform and a sole representative before the election authorities.
PAN and PRD leaders attacked what is being called the “Peña Law,” after Governor Enrique Peña Nieto.
Gustavo Madero, the PAN leader in the Senate, said, “This disturbs me a great deal, because it is a regressive measure that stinks of authoritarianism.” Senator Carlos Navarrete of the PRD said, “What is happening in the State of Mexico is the announcement by Enrique Peña Nieto of how he would govern if he were to become President of the Republic. With a regression to the past, with legislative sneak attacks, with imposition of measures to create the most positive scenario for him and his party.” (Reforma 9/14)
PAN Deputy Javier Corral and Senator Gustavo Madero introduced a new telecommunications bill, even as the PRI-controlled commissions in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies passed legislation that allows for the granting or renewal of telecommunications concessions without a public tender. Reforma reported that the PRI bill was drafted on the computer of Televisa executive Francisco Javier Tejado, who was also reportedly present at all the commission’s meetings. The PAN alternative would create a new autonomous regulatory body to replace the ineffective Cofetel. It would seek to provide an integrated approach to telecommunications regulation, including convergence, and it would also open the sector to foreign ownership—100% in telecommunications and 25% in radio and broadcast TV. (Reforma 4/9, Universal 4/9)
Congress got an early start on the long Holy Week vacation, as the Senate failed to get a quorum for its last scheduled session. The Senate leadership, headed by PAN Senator Gustavo Madero, invoked ‘fast track’ rules to speed key legislation during the final month of the Congressional session, from April 6-30. On the agenda are 68 pieces of legislation covering 13 reform initiatives. The legislation is in four broad areas: national security, political reform, public safety, and internal regulation of the Senate. (Excelsior 3/29, Reforma 3/25, Universal 3/29)
PRI Senate leader Manlio Fabio Beltrones demanded that the government make larger cuts in government spending as a condition for supporting the economic package. “The geometric growth in the top level bureaucracy in recent years, which we have documented, is evidence of the irresponsibility of conservative governments in the management of the public patrimony,” he said. The PRI in the Senate released a study showing that the headcount in the 23 agencies controlled by the President increased from 522,000 in 2004 to 644,000 in 2009 – up 23%. Over the same period, the number of highly paid officials (those earning more than Ps. 100,000/month and receiving fringe benefits of more than Ps. 700,000 per year) increased from 4,612 to 7,568 – an increase of 64%. PAN Senate leader Gustavo Madero said the report was “worthy of study” and that the PAN and the government were prepared to review the size of the bureaucracy. (Excelsior 9/10-11, Reforma 9/13)