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Cablegate: Corrected Mx00608 (Format Only) -- Ife Reforms

VZCZCXYZ0199
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHME #0611/01 0602147
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 292147Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0725
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

UNCLAS MEXICO 000611

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR AA MX
SUBJECT: CORRECTED MX00608 (FORMAT ONLY) -- IFE REFORMS
TAKE HOLD

This cable corrects format only of MX00608.

1. SUMMARY. Electoral reform legislation adopted last
September included a provision requiring Congress to replace
three of the Federal Electoral Institute's (IFE) members by
December. Congress, however, proved unable to forge
consensus around three candidates until February when it
agreed to appoint each of the candidates nominated by the
three major political parties represented in the Mexican
Congress. Although PRD's candidate Leonardo Valdz Zurita was
named IFE President, PRD leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
(AMLO) rejected the naming of the three as a significant
advance. Valdez already caused a minor stir with his
decision to look into some 262,000 claims of campaign
violations relating to the 2006 presidential elections.
Mid-term elections for the Chamber of Deputies scheduled for
2009 should prove its first noteworthy test. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --
Recasting the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE)
--------------------------------------------- --

2. The Mexican Congress passed electoral reform legislation
last September. Its most important provisions included the
following:

- No private funding allowed for airtime on television or
radio.

- Public spending limits for presidential elections cut in
half.

- Political campaigns limited to three months before the vote.

- Negative campaign messages prohibited.

- A new position of comptroller within IFE created to examine
the
bank accounts of the political parties.

- All nine IFE General Council members replaced on a staggered
basis.

3. The provision to replace three of the IFE counselors by
December generated some political controversy. PRD's AMLO
had charged that the IFE had demonstrated political bias in
ruling he had lost an extremely close 2006 presidential race.
PRD had made electoral reform a priority as a concession
from the Calderon administration in exchange for supporting
fiscal reform. Historically, IFE has proved one of the
Mexican government's more respectable, independent
institutions. Some within Calderon's PAN party objected to
agreeing to change its membership out of concern this would
overly politicize the institution. Ultimately, however, PAN
agreed to give Congress the authority to appoint nine new
counselors to IFE over the next two years.

4. Congress was not able to forge consensus on the first
three new appointees to the IFE by the December 13 deadline
it had set for itself. However, lengthy negotiations finally
produced agreement February 07, to appoint the nominee of
each of three major political parties represented in the
Mexican Congress. The three appointed by Congress include:

- Leonardo Valdz Zurita - Appointed to be IFE President with
his term expiring October 2013. Valdez, nominated by PRD, is
regarded as an expert on political and election issues. The
founder of a Center focused on electoral procedures, a member
of the Specialized Group on Electoral Studies at the Mexican
Council of Social Sciences, and the former Executive Director
of the IFE's Electoral Organization, Valdez is also a former
counselor of Mexico City's Electoral Institute (IEDF).
Valdez taught at el Colegio de Mexico and UAM and worked most
as an investigator for the University of Guanajuato. He is
an economist by profession and holds a PhD on Social Sciences
from el Colegio de Mexico.

- Benito Nacif Hernndez - Appointed to be an IFE Counselor
with his term expiring October 2016. Nominated by PAN, Nacif
is regarded as an expert on congressional relations with the
executive branch, political parties, and electoral systems.

He served prior as a coordinator of a legislative project
focusing on transparency in the Congress and also as Director
of the Political Studies Division at CIDE (Center of Research
and Economic Studies - Centro de Investigacisn y Docencias
Econsmicas). He has authored several books including
Understanding the Political Institutions and Understanding
the Mexican Legislative Power. Nacif is a public

administrator by profession. He received his under graduate
degree from El Colegio de Mexico and holds a PhD in Political
Sciences from the Oxford University.

- Marco Antonio Baos - Appointed to be an IFE Counselor with
his term expiring October 2016. Nominated by PRI, Baos is
the founder of a consultancy company, DEMOS S.C, on electoral
procedures. Baos served as Head of the Department of
Political Studies at the Interior Secretariat (SEGOB) and
taught at UNAM, ITAM and UNAP Universities. He also was one
of founders of the electoral body that preceded IFE. A
lawyer by profession, he received his degree from UNAM.

----------------------------------------
Valdez Already Stirring Some Controversy
----------------------------------------

5. Only several days into his job as IFE President, Valdez
announced February 21, that he plans to look into the some
262,000 claims of improper media spots tracing back to the
2006 presidential campaign. He has also promised to rule on
the disposition of the ballots from the 2006 elections which
are currently occupying significant space in IFE offices. In

September 2006, IFE acknowledged noteworthy media abuses
during the 2006 electoral campaigned but ruled Calderon the
legitimate winner notwithstanding. It is not entirely clear
what Valdez intends to accomplish by reopening this
controversial subject.

6. Comment: Congress agreed to turn over membership to the
IFE and appoint PRD's candidate as IFE President as part of
an effort to appease PRD claims of bias tracing back to the
2006 elections. Nevertheless, PRD leader AMLO has rejected
all three of the new appointees claiming that each is linked
to either the PAN or PRI. Valdez's new look at charges of
improper media spots relating to the 2006 elections may
generate some controversy but should not call into the
ultimate results of that election or challenge Calderon's
legitimacy. Mid-term elections to the Mexican Chamber of
Deputies scheduled for July 2009, on the other hand, should
prove the first noteworthy test of the new IFE's integrity in
adjudicating Mexican election races. End comment.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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