Pact for Mexico: a prosthetic for reform paralysis? The strengths and weakness of a "gentlemen's agreement" to reform a nation.


Here's a history lesson: During the presidential term of Ernesto Zedillo, the Last Institutional Revolutionary Party [PRI] president before Mexico's first democratic transition in 2000, the opposition party National Action Party [PAN], with a simple majority in the tower chamber, rejected a proposed reform initiative from the executive that would have allowed private businesses to participate in the energy sector. The president of the PAN's national executive committee at the time was a young and ambitious Felipe Calderon. Four years tater, congress once again rejected an almost identical energy reform proposed by President Vicente Fox, from the now ruling PAN. Felipe Calderon was now minister of energy and had endorsed the reform proposal. This time, it was the PRI that used its majority vote to stop the reform.

Almost a decade tater, Calderon, now the president, proposed a similar package of energy sector reforms after months of behind-the-scenes negotiation with the PRI. This time around it was the leftist PRD who took to the floor of the chamber of deputies to prevent its passage and then delayed the reform by subjecting it to several months of expert testimony in the senate. The end result was a disappointing series of minor changes, but no comprehensive energy reform, almost 15 years after it was first required to improve the efficiency of the sector.

The inability of the Mexico's major political parties to reach consensus in critical matters has been the constant since 1997, when legislative majority by any single party was lost forever. Thus, progress on both the political and the economic front has been slow-paced for many years in Mexico. Painstakingly, the prolonged failure to approve some of the most urgently required structural reforms for more than a decade has created the widespread perception of reform paralysis. Mexico's future seems to be held hostage inside the Legislative palace of San Lazaro. That is, until last December.

The Pacto pot Mexico [Pact for Mexico], signed on December 2, 2012, by President Enrique Pena Nieto and the presidents of the PRI, the PAN, and the PRD, was seen as a truly positive sign. In somewhat of 1987 deja vu, and with the approval of 86 percent of the Chamber of Deputies and 88 percent of the Senate, this "new deal" placed 95 commitments on the table touching on many of the previously mentioned reform priorities. For a couple of months, the Pacto created unprecedented legislative progress on...

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