Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador unveiled a swath of long-shot constitutional reforms to pensions, workers’ wages and the Supreme Court, a move seen as designed to energize his base and bait the opposition ahead of June’s elections.
The 20-point package was bound to the lower house on Monday, after a speech made by Lopez Obrador to present the proposals that are unlikely to pass through Congress in their entirety.
The Mexican leader, who prepares to leave office in October, is trying to ensure that successors can’t easily reverse policies like pension payouts and minimum wage hikes that have brought him widespread popularity among working-class voters. Proposals include modifying the country’s pension and electoral systems and banning fracking.
“The essence of these reforms and new rights is to redirect public life along the path of liberty, justice and democracy,” he said in the speech in the country’s capital.
The move underscores the ruling Morena party’s values ahead of a presidential campaign that officialy starts in March, and is geared at helping its candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum
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leaving the page., maintain a lead in the polls. It puts the opposition in the tricky position of either going along with potentially expensive social welfare spending or refusing to help groups such as the elderly just months before presidential and congressional elections.
Constitutional changes require the support of a two-thirds majority of Congress to pass — which the ruling party’s simple majority falls short of — meaning the president’s proposals seem likely to fail. But even if they do, they will allow the outgoing president to dominate the news cycle at a time when the candidates to succeed him have yet to formally make their own campaign pledges, according to Rodolfo Ramos, a strategist at Bradesco BBI.
“AMLO has been an excellent political strategist, and much of the content of these reforms go along with the narrative that he presented from the beginning” of his presidency, Ramos said. “He’s taking on the star role, when it should be his candidate that is in the limelight. Sheinbaum is trying to play it safe without taking risks, and he’s doing the campaigning, since she’s part of his movement.”
The proposals include financial changes, such as ensuring pensioners get payouts matched to their full original salary and making sure the minimum wage keeps up with inflation. They also call for the election of Supreme Court justices, prolonging a fight that AMLO, as the president is known, has waged against the country’s top court, which has blocked some of the key parts of his agenda.
In January, the Supreme Court voided legislation that the president had supported to give greater power to the country’s state-owned electric utility CFE, a change that made its way through the courts after it was challenged by private firms. The package of reforms also proposes deeming CFE a strategic public company.
Here are other key points out of the announced reforms:
- Expanding passenger rail service on railroads previously reserved for freight
- Disappearing autonomous regulatory bodies such as the Federal Commission of Economic Competition, known as the COFECE
- Transferring control of the National Guard to the Defense Department, making it part of the armed forced
- Banning genetically modified corn be planted and sold for human consumption
- Halting concessions for open-pit mining
- Reverting prior pension reforms passed in 1997 and 2007 for “unfairly affecting” certain workers
- The creation of a 64.7 billion peso ($3.8 billion) fund on May 1 aimed at compensating workers affected by previous pension and “anti-labor” reforms, with the aim of continuing to build on the fund
- Reducing the size of the country’s congress; bringing the lower house to 300 members from 500, and the senate to 64 members from 128
- Banning e-cigarettes and chemical drugs such as fentanyl
- Not allowing any federal government employee to have a higher salary than that deemed appropriate by the president
- Banning animal cruelty
- Giving workers and their families the right to own their home at a reduced cost after renting for a decade