Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Week's Revelation

I can't say I was expecting to write this anytime soon: Enrique Peña Nieto (or someone on his staff) published a really sharp column yesterday:
The state in a democratic system needs majorities to be effective. Without majorities, the capacity to decide and transform is lost, which ends up eroding the capacity to govern. Without definitions, the democratic system of government itself is vulnerable, because it becomes incapable of meeting the needs and expectations of the population.

Mexico has lived more than a decade without big reforms because our institutional system makes it hard to build majorities. Today, the Mexican state is ineffective because it hasn't been transformed. In this year of the Bicentennial of Independence and the Centennial of the Revolution, we must generate the will to create the cement of an effective state, where the population enjoys the practice of the fundamental rights that the Constitution establishes and the country grows to its true economic potential. The first step to achieve this objective is pushing a political reform that helps to generate congressional majorities.

There are three concrete political reform proposals. All make valuable contributions and share certain elements. Nevertheless, in none of the three is the formation of majorities the principal objective.
He goes on to suggest mandatory majorities for the party with a congressional plurality, the elimination of the plurinominals, and the increase in the minimum vote total to maintain registration. As a matter of making Mexico's politics more productive, the importance of majorities is hard to deny. So the options are letting things stand as they are and hoping that the PRI slides leftward and the PRD shrinks into insignificance, or to take more proactive measures like those that Peña Nieto mentions.

The piece is also politically smart in that it subtly addresses Peña Nieto's PRI-ness, and the lingering fear that the PRI of today might be no different than the PRI of 40 years ago. He doesn't deny the PRI's authoritarian past, but he emphasizes that times have changed. This sentence, about the automatic majority clause, is typical:
In our present democratic context, the three big parties have the possibility of reaching this vote total, so the rule wouldn't be, as it could have in the past, unjust.
I mentioned months ago that I think the basic path for Peña Nieto is to slowly take the air out of his celebrity while building a profile as a sharp thinker on policy issues. This is a good step in that direction. And even if he falls flat in 2012, he (or someone on his staff) would seem to have a bright future as a columnist.

Also, just so I don't go overboard in flattering him, here's a couple of posts where he's been rightfully criticized.

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