Politics: Corruption and Independent Candidates

MEXICO - Report 14 Oct 2015 by Guillermo Valdes and Esteban Manteca

Since the attempt to re-launch the government around the time of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s third State of the Nation address, politics has settled into some semblance of calm, with the exception of the frictions that have played out between the Mexican government and international human rights bodies in relation to the case of Ayotzinapa, and over the depth and gravity of humans right violations in Mexico in general.

In the wake of the cabinet reshuffle the country’s political life has centered around the performance of two newly appointed cabinet ministers, the work of Congress and the assumption of office of state governors and municipal presidents elected last June. All three types of events share a common denominator: the 2018 presidential succession.

Last month’s decision by President Peña to appoint Aurelio Nuño and José Antonio Meade as the ministers of education and social development, respectively, was seen as positioning them to better compete for the PRI presidential nomination. So far Nuño has risen in stature thanks to his tough talk on education reform while Meade has had a harder time finding political traction.

Issues before Congress that have attracted the most media attention include efforts to frustrate moves by some state governors to greatly restrict ballot access to independent candidates, and questions regarding the secondary laws needed for making the National Anticorruption System a reality, with critics warning that current legislation could make the system utterly ineffective.Both the PAN and PRD have responded by tendering bills of their own as each party strives to reposition itself ahead of 2018. Another case of anti-corruption political posturing is that of Nuevo León state Governor Jaime Rodríguez (independent), who has ordered his entire staff to audit the accounts of their predecessors in office and leave no stone unturned to uncover any evidence of past corruption.

That might sound good in a speech, but such warrantless searches are hardly an efficient means. Such an undertaking demands a solid institutional framework, mechanisms through which society can become engaged, and the launch of serious investigations and judicial proceedings that are carried to a positive conclusion.

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