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Peña Nieto’s reform agenda comes under fire

October 10, 2013

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s controversial proposals for fiscal and energy reforms were attacked from left, right and center this week.

The centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) announced on Wednesday that it was abandoning plans to impose value-added tax (IVA) on private education, as even prominent party members such as Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval had turned against it.

Earlier in the week, Sandoval had vowed to support the president with regard to “the grand reforms our country needs,” but he insisted that the PRI “must be sensitive to the reality of how people live,” and urged that plans to tax private tuition and property rentals should be rectified in order to protect Mexico’s middle class.

The tri-partisan Pact for Mexico signed after Peña Nieto’s inauguration last year has been stretched to breaking point by the PRI’s most recent proposals. Of all the president’s reform agenda, it appears that his plans for tax and energy reform will prove the most unpopular and difficult to pass.

On the right, the National Action Party (PAN) has vowed to oppose Peña Nieto’s fiscal reforms, which it says will hit the middle classes the hardest.

¨The PAN deputies will not approve anything against the assets of those who have struggled to carve out a life for themselves. What’s needed is a proposal in which the federal government guarantees transparency in the management of resources and reins in its superfluous spending,” Jose Gonzalez Morfin affirmed in Mexico’s lower house this week.

Meanwhile, on the left, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) announced this week that it will hold a Conference on the Defense of Energy Sovereignty from October 24 to 27. The PRD will disseminate information explaining its opposition to Peña Nieto’s plans for energy reform, which it believes will lead to the privatization of Mexico’s oil industry.

Addressing tens of thousands of supporters in Mexico City on Sunday, the PRD’s two-time presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced an unrelated campaign of non-violent civil disobedience after Peña Nieto ignored his calls for a national referendum on energy reform.

Lopez Obrador, who also voiced his opposition to the government’s proposals for educational reform, said the measures to be taken would be voted on by members of his National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and could include demonstrations, a mass refusal to pay electricity bills and taxes, and the formation of peaceful ring of protesters around Mexico’s congressional buildings.

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