Magazine article The World and I

Mexico: Crucial Election on the Horizon: Key Dates in Mexico's Move toward Democratization

Magazine article The World and I

Mexico: Crucial Election on the Horizon: Key Dates in Mexico's Move toward Democratization

Article excerpt

It was once said that "democracy exists 364 days a year in Mexico; it's only missing on election day."

October 1977: President JosA L-pez Portillo introduced the Federal Law of Political Organizations and Political Processes. Designed to enhance the legitimacy of an authoritarian, single-party dominant regime, this measure (1) eased participation requirements for opposition parties, (2) allocated one-quarter of the seats in the enlarged, 400-member Chamber of Deputies to individuals elected via proportional representation, and (3) provided the PRI's political foes with guaranteed access to the media, mailing privileges, and subsidies for their political activities.

August 1989: Eager to project a modern image, President Carlos Salinas allowed the National Action Party (PAN) to win the statehouse of Baja California. This gubernatorial victory, the first by an opposition candidate since the PRI's founding in 1929, paved the way for additional triumphs by PAN and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). By March 2000, these parties boasted the governorships of 10 states, as well as the mayorship of Mexico City and scores of other major cities.

February 1990: Salinas contacted President George Bush about exploring the formation of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This conversation gave rise to several years of negotiations, culminating in NAFTA's approval by the U.S. Congress in November 1993; the pact took effect on January 1, 1994. During this period, Salinas entered into a variety of agreements with the National Action Party, including recognition of PAN electoral successes, to demonstrate that a local version of political glasnost complemented the economic perestroika. …

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