Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, May 02, 2013


There's been a bit of stumbling on the march toward new politics in Mexico. It seems that old PRI habits have tripped up the new PRI president.

Mexico vote-buying scandal threatens president's agenda of reforms
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday faced the most serious political crisis of his young government, an explosive dispute with rival parties over electoral dirty tricks that could imperil his ambitious reform plans.

Veracruz, center of corruption?
Peña Nieto's highly touted Pact for Mexico, a kind of blueprint for his administration's agenda that had seemed to have won consensus from most major political groups, was on the verge of collapse after fresh reports of vote-buying by the president's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

The government was forced to cancel a series of public events under the auspices of the Pact for Mexico to avoid the embarrassment of a boycott by the main opposition factions…

The detonating dispute centers on audio recordings in which PRI elected officials can be heard discussing ways to use a government anti-poverty program to win votes in upcoming local elections.

The recordings involve officials in the coastal state of Veracruz and were made public by the rival National Action Party, or PAN, which held the presidency until Peña Nieto's election last year.

In one recording, a PRI official says citizens who get aid from the program, including food and stipends, must be immediately registered to vote so they feel obliged to support the party. Another official appears to be conditioning the distribution of government-supplied wheelchairs and dentures to party fealty. In another recording, the officials appear to be discussing ways of purging the social programs of non-PRI participants.

The shenanigans described are a throwback to tactics used throughout the seven decades the PRI held near-absolute power in Mexico. Peña Nieto has insisted that the party, which spent 12 years in opposition until regaining the presidency last year, is changed, having become more democratic and transparent. But the recordings cast doubt on such claims…

The boycott by the conservative PAN was seconded by the other major opposition force, the leftist Democratic Revolution Party…

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