Tag Archives: Corruption

Mexico’s Midterm Elections and the Peña Nieto Administration

 

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Anger could derail Mexico’s economic recovery

By Business Insider India 05/07/15

Revulsion with the government of Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto over pervasive corruption and insecurity has become widespread in Mexico.

That sentiment could not only have consequences for Pena Nieto at the ballot box next month, but could also undermine the recovery of Latin America’s second-largest economy.

Pena Nieto entered office in 2012 promising reforms aimed at making the Mexican economy more dynamic and appealing to foreign investment. His platform was a departure from the emphasis of his predecessors on reducing violence and pursuing the drug war.

But the alleged corruption of Pena Nieto and other senior officials,escalating violence throughout the country, and dissatisfaction with many federal policies could undermine the efforts of his governing party, the center-right PRI, to maintain or expand its parliamentary advantage – and thus its ability to enact reforms – when Mexicans vote in national and local legislative elections on June 7.

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Legislative Proposals from the PAN, PRI, and PRD

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

In each election cycle, voters are subject to endless partisan propaganda by all political parties and, rather than providing clarity, it tends to confuse the electorate. In an attempt to provide clarity, the National Electoral Institute (INE) is holding discussion forums on the legislative platforms and the key proposals of each political party. In addition to INE’s efforts, the National University (UNAM) has launched Voto Informado (informed vote) an initiative that surveys the candidates and gather information on their public policy views. In the Mexico Institute, we made an analysis of the legislative platforms of the three main political parties, and highlight the following trends:

  1. Rule of law and security. The PRI, PAN, and PRD agree on increasing anti-corruption controls at the state and municipal levels and on raising penalties on public servants. They also agree on increasing education on and emphasis on human rights, both for citizens and security personnel such as police, Legislative Proposals from the PAN, PRI, and PRDjudges, and military. The PRD proposal focuses on drug decriminalization; the PAN seeks to promote the creation of public agencies to monitor compliance with the new anti-corruption rules; whereas the PRI focuses on the implementation of some of the security measures announced by the President in recent months, such as a single police entity at the state-level and a single nationwide emergency number.
  2. Economy and public finances. The PRI, PAN, and PRD agree on raising the minimum wage but differ on the level and method of doing so. The PRI encourages the use of public spending to boost development in specific industries and regions; the PAN wants to ensure multi-year investments in infrastructure projects; and, the PRD and PRI are proposing the establishment of unemployment insurance.
  3. Energy and sustainability. The PRI and the PAN agree to monitor the implementation of the reform to increase certainty for international investors, increasing transparency and accountability at every stage of contracts. The PRI is looking for policies to increase production of crude oil and the PAN seeks to focus on renewable energies. The PRD, in addition to seeking to repeal the energy reform, focuses on lowering prices to final consumers in gasoline, diesel and electricity prices.

Despite the apparent point in common that the parties have, it remains to be seen if the political incentives may provide an environment to reach productive agreements given the fact that this legislature will be a prelude to the next presidential succession. At the same time, it remains to be seen if the President and his team revive the political ability shown in the start of his government in order to build consensus with the opposition parties in key areas.

Finally, returning to the discussion of proposals, while it is not clear that Mexican society is enthusiastic about these elections, it is a good sign that the INE, UNAM, and other organizations are focused on disseminating information among the electorate and promoting the debate on the proposals. Hopefully, it will help to overcome apathy and increase voter turnout next June.

See the infographics below analyzing key issues on the PRI, PAN, and PRD legislative proposals. The proposals are grouped into 8 categories: rule of law, public finances, security, economy, education, social development, sustainability, and energy.

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Visit here for more information regarding the political landscape in Mexico

Visit here for more information on the parties for this election

Visit here to check all the legislative proposals (in Spanish)

Mexico’s Congress passes anti-corruption law

By Reuters  04/22/15

Mexico’s Congress has approved an anti-corruption law that could help relieve pressure on President Enrique Pena Nieto’s scandal-plagued government.

The law, passed late on Tuesday night, strengthens oversight of public officials and designates a special prosecutor to tackle corruption. It comes after several previous efforts to pass anti-graft measures failed.

The reform will give new powers to Mexico’s existing Federal Audit Office and the Public Administration Ministry (SFP), as well as creating a special court to oversee all corruption-related issues.

Details of the changes will be hashed out in secondary laws that must be passed in the next year.

Opposition parties joined with Pena Nieto’s party to approve the law, but some anti-corruption organizations have expressed concern that the project will just give a face lift to existing institutions and will not address the low rate of prosecutions for corruption in Mexico.

Pena Nieto’s focus on reforming Mexico’s struggling economy has been overshadowed by scandals underscoring rampant impunity and passage of the law could ease pressure on his party ahead of mid-term elections in June.

Earlier this month, the head of Mexico’s federal water authority resigned after he and his family used one of the agency’s helicopters for personal travel.

Last year, it was revealed that Pena Nieto, his wife and his finance minister had all bought or were using houses belonging to a government contractor involved in a consortium that won a high-speed train contract.

Fernando Belaunzaran, a congressman with the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), said the new law would put pressure on state governors to ensure spending is honest.

(Reporting by Elinor Comlay Editing by W Simon)

Mexico’s Greens: pro-death penalty, allegedly corrupt – and not very green

By The Guardian, 04/21/15

Allied with the governing PRI, the party has little to say about deforestation or climate change and critics call it a family firm ‘bordering on organised crime’

In much of the world, green politicians struggle to shake off the impression that they are impossible dreamers whose lofty principles would be unlikely to survive the grubby and cynical world of politics.

This has never been a problem in Mexico: leaders of the country’s Green party have regularly been accused of corruption, selling political favours – and of showing no interest in environmental issues. In 2009, the party ran an election campaign calling for the return of the death penalty.

Now the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico faces record 180m peso (£7.9m/$11.7m) fines for breaching electoral campaign rules amid growing anger over its tactics ahead of midterm elections in June. More than 96,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that electoral authorities withdraw the party’s registration after it flooded the country with political advertising before the campaign period officially began.

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Visit here for more information on the parties for this election.
Visit here for more information regarding the last political reform in Mexico.
Visit here for our polls analysis.

Corruption, A Central Issue in the Campaigns

By Duncan Wood and Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Mexico’s political elite has been roiled in recent months by a succession of corruption and conflict of interest scandals. The “Casa Blanca” scandal involving the First Lady, Angélica Rivera, followed closely by similar incidents involving the Finance Minister, the President himself, one of his closest advisors, and most recently the head of the CONAGUA (the national water commission), have all raised public awareness and criticism of the prevalence of graft within the Mexican political system. It is not only the government that has been affected, as both the PAN and PRD opposition parties have been tainted by scandals of their own. What’s more, the divided nature of the opposition parties has hindered their power to take advantage of the recent crisis of legitimacy faced by the government.

However, in the eyes of the electorate, corruption has emerged as a key topic in the electoral campaigns. Social media in Mexico has been awash with the issue, and a group of think tanks and NGOs, including IMCO and Transparencia Mexicana, have launched a collaborative effort calling on Mexican politicians to make a full declaration of their income, holdings, and interests. Thus far, only 19 candidates to congresses and municipalities have complied and only 3 candidates to governorships.

Beyond the headlines, however, it is important to remember where the debate is currently and what the parties are proposing in their electoral platforms. Last February, the Chamber of Deputies approved constitutional amendments to create the National Anticorruption System. Some notable changes are: 1) Senate ratification for the Secretary of Public Administration, 2) expand the abilities of the Superior Audit Office (ASF) to monitor expenditures in real time in contrast with lag-monitoring, 3) increase sanctions for public servants accused of corruption acts and include sanctions for private entities involved in those corruption acts, 4) direct appointment of the Chamber of Deputies of the internal control offices for autonomous bodies, among others.

In March, the Senate began the analysis and debate on the amendments submitted by the Deputies. Last week, Senate leaders met to determine the legislative objectives towards the end of the regular period and among them is the final approval of these constitutional changes, a situation that will likely happen in the next few weeks with the recent approval of the freedom-of-information law. However, with only just over two weeks left for the current legislative period in Congress, there are some issues that the next Chamber of Deputies (which will begin in September) will likely be in charge of debating and approving.

The Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion of the Chamber of Deputies recently conducted a survey on the National Anticorruption System, which showed that 85% of citizens believe there is a big problem of corruption in the country, contrasting with only 7% indicating that there is a strong sense of justice in Mexico; in fact, 57% believe that corruption has increased in the last 12 months. Only 45% know or have heard of the National Anticorruption System, but 73% indicate that the country needs legislation on that matter. Finally, of the measures in the new law, the following methods to punish acts of corruption were ranked the highest: 1) punish acts of corruption both for public servants and for private entities, 2) the creation of a National Committee, including civil society, to follow up on corruption issues, 3) expand the powers of the Superior Audit Office, and 4) prosecute and punish acts of corruption, even if no formal complaint is filed.

With this as background, the legislative proposals of the main political parties for this 2015 election are:

PAN

  • The party is proposing further actions to consolidate the current law being debated in the Senate. Specifically, the PAN proposes the creation of citizen observatories to follow up on corruption and accountability issues and expand the powers of local comptrollers in order to fight corruption in the local-levels.
  • In addition, the party proposes strengthening the role of municipalities to meet public safety needs and establish coordination schemes with state and federal authorities, and also to expand the powers of the ASF to oversee federal contributions to states and avoid debt growth.

PRI

  • The party aims to strengthen the powers of the ASF in the monitoring and control of public spending and strengthen the powers of the Federal Institute of Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI in Spanish) in order to accelerate decisions regarding access to information.
  • In addition, it proposes creating a National Council for Public Ethics with the participation of authorities, civil society, and political parties.

PRD

  • The party proposes to create a High Court to prevent, audit, and punish public servants, citizens, and political parties who engage in acts of corruption. This institution will have the ability to audit ongoing processes and will be autonomous.
  • It also aims to regulate bidding and concessions processes, the use of public resources (including monitoring of public debt), promote accountability mechanisms, create an austerity bill, and reduce unnecessary and burdensome costs.

In conclusion, corruption is not only at the center of the allegations and the struggle for the vote of Mexicans, it also occupies an important place in the platforms of political parties. There are clearly issues in which there are significant similarities in the proposals, such as increasing monitoring on public expenditures at the local level. At the same time, there are others which potentially could lead to finding middle ground, such as citizen oversight in anti-corruption mechanisms or local institutions to sanction acts of corruption. With all of these, the new cohort of deputies will have to engage in negotiations and debates in order to give the country a credible and effective system to combat corruption.

Serious doubts remain, however, about the commitment of both politicians and parties to reforming the system and aggressively attacking the corruption problem in Mexico. According to Mexican experts, graft is so deeply embedded and so widespread that there is not a party that can be considered immune from accusation, and even with the passing of new laws, the acid tests of implementation and compliance will prove to be a major challenge for policy makers that will require a vigilant eye from civil society.

This article was also published in the Mexico Institute website.

Transparency and Rule of Law

This year, the Mexico Institute is working on proposals and analyses regarding transparency and rule of law. You can visit our infographics regarding this topic here and other important publications here.

Here you can find all the electoral platforms, as registered to the INE (in Spanish).

Mexican Congress expands reach of freedom-of-information law

By Associated Press via The Washington Post, 04/17/15

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Congress has approved freedom of information legislation that will allow public access to data from almost any entity that receives government funding.

The measure was passed Thursday in the lower house on a 264-68 vote and now goes to the president for his signature.

President Enrique Pena Nieto wrote in his Twitter account that the law “will strengthen the accountability of the Mexican government and combat corruption.”

Mexicans can currently use freedom-of-information requests to get data from government agencies. But the new law now also covers requests to unions, political parties and government-supported councils and commissions.

The law also sets down rules for the classifying of information as confidential or a state secret, designations that have allowed some agencies to skirt information access rules.

Here are 5 important changes in the new freedom-of-information law:

  1. Increase transparency obligations to all organizations that receive public funds, including political parties, unions, and independent agencies, among others.
  2. Federal deputies and Senators now have to make public their salaries, bonuses, benefits, and other expenses.
  3. Information regarding human rights violations cannot be restricted from the public.
  4. Creation of a National Transparency System, a digital platform to gather and track all the access-to-information requests.
  5. Increase penalties for public servants when they declare absence of information without proof.

Click here and here for more information (in Spanish).

Click here to see a larger version of the infographic “The Mexican State and Anti-Corruption Efforts.”

Also, click here to check the components of the WJP Open Government Index 2015 in which Mexico is ranked 42 out of 102 countries.

This year, the Mexico Institute is working on proposals and analyses regarding transparency and rule of law. You can visit our info-graphics, events, and publications on the topic here. Below you can find the webcast of Luis Rubio’s Book: A Mexican Utopia.