Mexico's Senate approved constitutional changes Wednesday that would let lawmakers run for re-election and permit independents to seek office, part of a bid to make the political system more accountable to voters.
The changes, passed by the Senate in a 95-8 vote with eight abstentions, must still be approved by the lower house of Congress, at least 16 of Mexico's 31 state legislatures and the president.
Under Mexico's current system, candidates for all local, state and federal offices must be endorsed by a political party and no publicly elected official at any level can seek re-election. The constitutional proposal would allow independent candidates for any office, but the re-election change would apply only to federal legislators.
Critics say the current system makes politicians who don't have to worry about seeking a second term less beholden to voters. Instead, officials spend time currying favor with their own parties in a bid to seek nominations for other posts.
The proposed changes will create "a more democratic system, one closer to the people that represents the interests of society," said Sen. Graco Ramirez of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party.
Several Latin American countries have changed their constitutions in recent years to allow presidential re-election but that idea remains unpopular in Mexico. A one-term presidency was a key principle of the Mexican Revolution a century ago, seen as a way to end the era of strongmen.