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Mexican election sanity — why can’t the U.S. do this?

1 October 2007

How long have the U.S. elections been going on now. Er, rather, when do they “officially” start? And how much money has already been spent? I roughly figured out one time that the amount of private funds spent by the two main candidates and their parties in the last U.S. election was roughly about 10 times what is estimated Mexicans lose to “corruption” in a year.


Is it more important to me how much money Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama has extracted from the (rich) people, or should I be more interested in what Hillary or Barack is proposing about, oh… Brazilian-U.S. energy transfers? And why should I care if Mitt Romney is spending his own money to spread his message… the guy is a moron, no matter who pays who to say it.



Jeremy Schwartz, in the Boston Globe, has a good overview of changes to Mexico’s election laws. Under the “kinder, gentler” system, “the country’s electoral system will more closely resemble the relatively polite European model than anything seen in the United States. The next presidential election will last only 90 days. Paid TV and radio ads will be banned, and Mexico’s election authority will try to regulate the negativity out of Mexican politics.”




The main opposition to the new rules are T.V. and radio broadcasters. Naturally – they’ll have to give up 48 minutes of daily airtime during the campaign season for political messages. Geeks of the world unite… the law overlooks internet content.



The highly respected (by me, and anyone who ever heard of the guy) José Woldenberg – former chair of the Federal Elections Commission (which, unlike the U.S. FEC, is a court of law, and can bring indictments and initiate prosecutions) – sees a small problem. With candidates forbidden from “denegrating” the opposition, the Commissioners are going to be busy trying to determine the fine line between abuse and spirited political rhetoric.



The new law will also outlaw “special interest” advertising, which was used by Calderón’s backers to get around already strict campaign spending limits (and bring in foreign “spin doctors” like Dick Morris and Rob Allyn). The last major round of election reforms came after Carlos Salinas de Goutari was “elected” — and were part of the price the establishment had to pay for his dubious victory in 1988. Then, the Mexican left forced through changes as the price of allowing the questionable election to stand in the name of “stability”.


Given the overt partisanship of the last election’s Election Commission Chair, Luis Ugalde, and the Election Commission’s actions after the July election, it will be years – if ever – we can say for certain that the electorial winner is in Los Pinos. Electorial reform is a small price for the Calderón administration to pay, though I am guessing still other reforms will be extracted from them.


One Comment leave one →
  1. el_longhorn permalink
    2 October 2007 10:10 am

    Calderon is proving to be quite able, politically speaking. An electoral reform law and a tax reform law both passed in his first year…who would have thought?

    Also, good to see the PRD compromising and behaving like adults. This is a good compromise for them, since the tax reform bill gets more money for government programs like education and health care, and will not really affect the poor.

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