Senate Approves Legislation to Eliminate Dry Law on Election Day

Article excerpt

In a unanimous vote in late February, the Senate approved changes to the electoral code (Codigo Federal de Instituciones y Procedimientos Electorales, COFIPE), eliminating a federal prohibition on alcohol sales on the federal election day. The changes to the dry law, in effect for almost a century, will be applicable to the presidential and congressional elections on July 2, 2006.

Under the reform to article 239 of the COFIPE, restaurants and other establishments will no longer be subject to federal restrictions on the sale of alcoholic products on election day and the day prior to the election.

The Senate measure, similar to one the Chamber of Deputies approved in May, 2005, was promoted by the Camara Nacional de la Industria de Restaurantes y Alimentos Condimentados (CANIRAC) and the Asociacion Mexicana de Hoteles y Moteles (AMHM).

"The discontent with the dry law has been growing during the past few years, especially in regions of the country where the principal activity is foreign tourism," said the text of the Senate legislation. "Merchants in these areas were incurring heavy economic losses."

In recent years, many critics called for repeal of the law, which they called outdated because many of the election safeguards that were put in place in 1915 no longer apply to modern society.

The dry law was first imposed by Sonora Gov. Plutarco Elias Calles in 1915 to discourage violence and abstentionism on election day. Elias Calles later served as Mexican president from 1924 to 1928.

"This law guarantees that citizens will show up at the polls...and will exercise their right to vote in a responsible manner," said the text of the law, which was eventually extended to the rest of the country. …