martes, 14 de enero de 2014

2014: a new political calculus

Last year was the year of sweeping reforms. This will be the year of fleshing out the details that will deliver – or fail to realize – the promise contained in the reforms. The process of writing the secondary legislation and implementing regulations for the host of potentially game-changing alterations that will open up previously closed sectors of the Mexican economy will be a time-consuming, constant battle. Meeting the deadlines will be challenging.

The companies and persons who benefit from the pre-reform status quo will naturally do all they can to leave as many of their existing advantages untouched as possible. The Administration will want to dismantle as much of the existing structure as possible without pushing those people into open opposition to the reforms or into support for opposition political parties. Then, there will also be the street protests promised by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) to deal with.

There’s a new political reality this year: President Peña and the PRI don’t need PAN or PRD votes to move forward with their program. A simple majority will suffice to pass the laws needed this year. If the PRI leadership delivers its own party’s votes, the votes of its Green Party ally and the PANAL (controlled by the SNTE teachers’ union leader, Elba Esther Gordillo, before she was jailed), the PRI will have 50.2% of the votes in the Chamber of Deputies. No PAN or PRD votes required…

In the Senate, the PRI-Greens-PANAL vote count comes to 48.4%, just short of a simple majority. The PRI has two options. It can try to cherry pick the three votes it needs for a majority from the other four parties represented in the Senate (PAN, PRD, Movimiento Ciudadano, and Partido del Trabajo). Or, it can try for a reprise of last year’s strategy, allying with the PRD to pass some legislation and with the PAN to approve other laws.

Neither the PAN nor the PRD have the bargaining power they did last year. Complicating their positions, both parties, riven by internal strife, will elect new leaders this year. The PRD’s “tribes” continue their ongoing dispute for control of the party. Soundly rejected at the polls in 2012, the PAN has fallen victim to the recriminations and infighting that often accompanies such a massive electoral defeat. 

It will be an interesting year.

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