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  HOME | Mexico

Calderon Wants to Shrink Mexico’s Congress

MEXICO CITY – President Felipe Calderon proposed Tuesday a far-reaching reform of Mexico’s political system, including easing term limits on mayors and lawmakers and reducing the size of Congress.

Calderon also suggested that Mexican citizens should be able to present independent candidacies without having to be affiliated to a political party, and that the presidential election should go to a runoff if one candidate does not obtain an absolute majority in the initial voting.

Speaking at his official residence, Los Pinos, the president said that his proposal, which would require amending the constitution, “represents the most far-reaching transformation suggested for our representative institutions and the government for a long time.”

“Citizens are not satisfied with their political representation (and) perceive an enormous distance between their needs and what their rulers do,” Calderon said.

His plan for reform would allow state legislators, mayors and city councilors to seek immediate re-election up to a limit of 12 years.

That would allow these officials “to promote governmental programs of much greater scope” in such areas as infrastructure and reforming police forces, the Mexican president said.

The political reform proposes the same arrangement for federal lawmakers.

Calderon also seeks to shrink the lower house from 500 to 400 members and the Senate from 128 seats to 96.

The right-wing president, who took power in 2006 after winning a bitterly contested election by a mere 0.56 percent of the vote, also proposed that a presidential election go to a second round when one of the candidates does not achieve an absolute majority on the first ballot.

A political party in Mexico currently keeps a register that enables it to receive public funding when in a presidential election it gets at least 2 percent of the vote, but Calderon wants to raise that threshold to 4 percent in order to “guarantee a greater social representation of the parties.”

The government also wants to create the concept of “citizen initiatives” by which people can propose bills to Congress.

Another point in his reform plan is that of independent political candidacies, which will guarantee the right of “all citizens to run for office.”

Finally, the president suggested an instrument of “preferential initiatives” so that when the president presents a bill that is subsequently rejected by Congress, it can be approved by means of a popular referendum. EFE
 

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