Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bold move?

Asking your appointee to investigate you for corruption might not be a big deal.

The right place to start
[President Peña] announced that he, his wife and his finance minister will become the first subjects of a conflict-of-interest investigation. This startling decision was part of a package of anti-corruption measures that Mr Peña hopes will re-establish his credibility and popularity, which has been battered by scandal and public anger over crime.

President Peña
To succeed, Mr Peña must first of all establish that he is blameless…

[The investigation] will be conducted by Virgilio Andrade Martínez, a civil servant. Mr Peña has appointed him minister of public administration, a post that has been vacant for more than two years. The ministry’s duty is to monitor whether government officials are abiding by the law.

Anti-corruption activists question how impartial Mr Andrade’s probe will be, since he owes his job to Mr Peña. A panel of experts will scrutinise his findings, which will provide some reassurance…

A whitewash could discredit a broader effort to cure systemic corruption that plagues Mexico from the highest tiers of government to the lowest. The president called on Congress swiftly to approve a constitutional reform, put forward by the opposition National Action Party (PAN), to create an interlocking system of enforcement and supervision, rather than a single anti-corruption agency…

The involvement of both parties suggests that the reform has a good chance of passing. It has the backing of many anti-corruption NGOs. But it is probably not enough to change the behaviour of politicians…

A false start
PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO´S decision to expose himself, his wife and his finance minister to an investigation over conflict-of-interest allegations has unfortunately got off to a bungled start. The government minister appointed to lead the probe said on February 4th the he was unable to investigate the mortgage contracts that are at the centre of the scandal, raising questions about the seriousness of his endeavor…

Some accused Mr Peña of acting cynically in announcing with much fanfare an investigation that he must have known would be limited in scope. It is also widely noted that Mr Andrade owes his job to Mr Peña, and says he is a personal friend of Mr Videgaray… But Mr Peña’s anti-corruption drive, a belated bid to address his plunging popularity, has started on the wrong foot.

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