Politics: Government Re-launch Fails to Lift Off

MEXICO - Report 10 Sep 2015 by Guillermo Valdes and Esteban Manteca

Hopes that this year’s State of the Nation Report and President Enrique Peña Nieto’s accompanying nationwide address might signal a major change of approach and policies were dashed last week as seemingly self-critical introductory remarks quickly gave way to self-serving and questionable claims of policy successes, and the now all too familiar mishmash of priorities that this government periodically serves up as a policy “decalogue”. The annual report fell short of anything that might be construed as a call to re-launch the administration; instead, it served as clear confirmation that this government intends to stick through to 2018 with the style and substance of governing it has maintained in its first three years in office.

The president’s failure to spell out a new political agenda conceivably provides the major parties with a small opening to force a change in public policy, but an analysis of the agendas put forward to date (PAN, PRI, Morena, PRD) suggests that no significant change of course is in the cards. In fact, there are striking similarities in the proposals made by all the parties on matters of fighting corruption, achieving greater transparency and some security topics. The PAN and Morena call for repealing the last fiscal reform while its main architects, the PRD and PRI, want to leave it intact.

During the inaugural session of the new legislature, attention will center on negotiations surrounding the 2016 spending budget, and the governing PRI and its minor party allies’ lack of a Senate majority provides the opposition parties with a bit of room in which to negotiate some aspects of the 2016 budget.

The PAN is pushing to change aspects of the most recent tax reform that the private sector claims stripped out tax incentives for private investment, and it is unclear what attitude the administration will take. In his speech President Peña dodged any specifics in relation to anti-corruption legislation, and the authors of this year’s anti-corruption reform complain the administration is devising proposals to neutralize many aspects of the constitutional reform. There is a similar lack of visibility in matters of security policy.

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