Monday, June 7, 2004
The Mexican government — PRI discourse
By Enrique Andrade González
In the midst of the recent scandals that have taken
place in Mexico, problems that have also complicated political dialogue and the possibilities of reaching agreements on a
number of important and necessary legal changes, on May 27 President Vicente Fox meet with a negotiating commission from the
opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
With respect to the meeting, two facets truly stand
First of all the President did not meet with just
Roberto Madrazo, the national head of the PRI, as he has done in the past. Included
this time were the coordinators of the party’s congressional delegations, important because the PRI holds majorities
in both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Also present was Beatriz Paredes,
who ran against Madrazo for the presidency of the PRI. Paredes, an outstanding
person, is one of the most respected women in Mexico.
The commission that participated in the meeting
at the Los Pinos presidential compound truly represented the party, showing that the PRI continues to be united, and that
it is a party that respects the President — as do those of us who belong to the party.
As well, it showed the strength needed to gain accords proffered by the government.
The second aspect is that Fox acknowledged
the political importance of the PRI, and by receiving the party members as he did a period of confrontation and criticism
against the party ended. This in turn opens the way for a stage of understanding.
It was agreed in principle that all subjects
of interest to either side will be dealt with at the negotiating table, leaving aside current and past electoral conflicts
in order to avoid any breakdown. The PRI will be prepared to discuss the so-called
structural reforms, and the government will be able to talk about pension reforms and agricultural issues. They also agreed to advance some state reform matters, including the right to vote by Mexicans living in
the U.S., and new mechanisms for institutional understanding between the branches of government.
The meeting is important because it demonstrated
that there is an existing will to talk at the highest levels. Furthermore, this
represents the last political opportunity to advance during this six-year administration, since the parties will be more concerned
with their presidential candidates in 2005, and with election campaigns in 2006.
It is important for the PRI to have certain
things defined that are henceforward of interest, since surveys show that there is a real possibility that the party will
win the 2006 presidential elections and return to government. For the President,
by reaching significant agreements he will pass into history remembered as a transition president who established the bases
needed for the strengthening of democracy and the modernization of the country.
The results of the negotiations will be dependent
upon the president’s cabinet and the National Action Party (PAN) supporting him unconditionally in respecting the accords. As for the PRI, the party’s General Secretariat will have to respect the decisions
that will be made and that will be backed by the party’s Policy Council.
The agreement route will be difficult, since
from now to November gubernatorial elections are scheduled in ten states. The
PRI and the PAN will compete head on in nine of them where differences also exist within the parties themselves, and with
their representatives in congress.
The signs of a split between the PAN and the
President do not help, and it must finally be acknowledged within the PAN that as goes the President so goes his party. The negotiations with the PRI are needed by the President more than the PAN, however
to deny this premise or to give off signs of confusion will mean the loss of the opportunity for understanding.
A good beginning would be to address five very
important national subjects and see if the proposed reforms can truly help. Among
the matters in need of negotiation that are of most interest to Mexicans are poverty, employment, immigration, rural agriculture
Next the government could signal a preliminary accord. An interlocutor would be named, someone new, exclusive, trustworthy and with the authority
to make cabinet-level decisions. For the PRI, an open means to define an agenda
of negotiating proposals would be required, endorsed in each case by the party’s Policy Council.
The first step has been taken, and now both sides
will have an obligation to continue.
Andrade González (a www.mexidata.info columnist) is a senior official with the office of the Presidency of the Republic, in Mexico City. Lic. Andrade, an attorney who received his LL.M. in Constitutional and Protection
(“Amparo”) Law from the Universidad Iberoamericana, is also a law professor at the Universidad Intercontinental. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.