President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed a 34-page “Pact for Mexico” which addresses 95 important issues in five broad categories:
- reducing violence
- combating poverty
- boosting economic growth
- reforming education
- fostering social responsibility
Though there are few details, the Pact specifically calls for:
- Universal Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and Health Care Systems
- Providing every public school student with a computer
- Opening petroleum exploration to foreign investment
- Creating a single national penal code, abolishing all the state penal codes.
Obviously, many of his objectives are very ambitious. For example, opening petroleum exploration to foreign investment could increase future production significantly but violates national sovereignty in the eyes of many Mexicans. Replacing all state penal codes with a national code could be messy; for example, abortion is legal in Mexico City but a crime in most other states. Several previous presidents have tried and failed to unify the criminal codes.
While most Mexicans enthusiastically support the reform package, many argue that, almost by definition, any 95-point plan lacks real focus and priority. Others say it will be nearly impossible to implement. On the other hand, as governor of the State of Mexico, Peña Nieto established a record of making ambitious promises and implementing them. For example, he was one of the first three governors to implement former President Calderón’s new legal reform program. In addition, he has already obtained the formal agreement of Mexico’s two other major parties, PRD and PAN, both of which have three members on the 14 member “Pact for Mexico” implementation team.
Investors seem impressed. When the Pact was announced, the Mexican stock market (Bolsa Mexicana de Valores, BMV) went up 1.2%, while markets in New York declined. Furthermore, Peña Nieto’s Party, PRI, has a strong plurality in both the Mexican Senate and Chamber of Deputies. He already has pushed through a Constitutional amendment on education reform and arrested the leader of the powerful teacher’s union on embezzlement charges.
We will have to wait and see how well Peña Nieto does with his very ambitious “Pact for Mexico”. If he achieves only a third of his objectives, he may replace Benito Juárez as Mexico’s “best president ever”. If he fails, Mexico will have to wait for future administrations to address the serious issues that face the country.
- Reforms badly needed for Mexico’s criminal justice system
- Which political party has the most state governors?
- How does Mexico’s electoral process compare to other countries?
- Mexico’s political system: the basics
- Mexico’s political system at the state and municipal levels
- How does democracy in Mexico compare to other countries?