Mexican Congress Approves Sweeping Electoral Reform

Up until now, Mexico has been known as “the land of no reelection.”  That may be about to change.  Reforms approved by Mexico’s Senate and Chamber of Deputies on December 5, 2013, would allow senators to run for two six-year terms, representatives for four three-year terms, and mayors to run for two three-year terms.  Only the president and the mayor of the Federal District of Mexico would be limited to one term. 

Currently, neither the president, lawmakers, nor mayors can be reelected to the same post.  Following the Mexican Revolution in 1910, non-reelection was seen as a way to prevent officials from overstaying their welcome as Porfirio Díaz did when he occupied the presidency for three decades.  For this new package of reforms to take effect, they must be approved by more than half of Mexico’s state legislatures. 

Over the years, some Mexican policy analysts observed that the ban has had an unintended side-effect – that of concentrating power among political party leaders who normally hand-picked the candidates.  Instead of responding to voters, elected officials have obeyed party leaders who might determine their future.  Non-reelection of mayors potentially weakened municipal governance.  Without reelection as a reward, there is little incentive for accountability. 

The issue of non-reelection was discussed by the leaders of Mexico’s political parties, policy experts, academics and government officials at a June 2013 forum hosted by the International Republican Institute.  Some 130 experts gathered for the Political-Electoral Reform Forum where they studied a framework agreement called the Pacto por México which was supported by the three parties – Institutional Revolutionary Party, National Action Party (PAN) and Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD).  

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