Mexican senators approve electoral, anti-corruption bills

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 13, 2013 11:49 PM
Mexican senators approve electoral, anti-corruption bills

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's Senate gave final congressional approval on Friday to an electoral reform bill that allows for the re-election of lawmakers, and also pushed forward legislation that would create an anti-corruption watchdog.

The electoral bill, which opposition conservatives demanded in exchange for supporting President Enrique Pena Nieto's landmark energy overhaul approved this week, will now be sent to state lawmakers. Lawmakers in 16 out of Mexico's 31 states need to ratify the legislation.

The approval of the electoral bill clears the way for Congress to focus early next year on secondary laws needed to flesh out both the energy legislation and a law approved in the spring that aims to boost competition in the telecommunications sector.

Pena Nieto mounted a major reform drive this year to boost growth in Mexico's economy, and lawmakers this week backed his cornerstone bill to open up state-run energy industries to private investment.

The electoral reform, which passed 95-11, sets out rules for coalition governments and aims to strengthen Congress at the expense of the president.

The bill would also empower electoral authorities to annul elections if the winner exceeded campaign spending limits. Pena Nieto was accused by the opposition of overspending heavily in his 2012 campaign.

Lawmakers will be allowed to run for re-election, but with term limits of 12 years. Mexican federal and state lawmakers currently cannot be re-elected to consecutive terms in the same office. The reform does not allow for presidential re-election.

The Senate approved the bill earlier this month, but lower house lawmakers made some changes and sent the bill back to the Senate for final approval.

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Senators also voted 111-2 to approve a bill to establish an anti-corruption authority that would investigate political graft. The bill now goes to the lower house.

Pena Nieto pledged to establish an authority to fight corruption after he won the presidency and returned the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to power after it spent 12 years in the opposition.

The PRI was reviled by many Mexicans as corrupt and heavy-handed by the time it lost power in 2000 after ruling Mexico for most of the 20th century.

(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Peter Cooney)