MEXICO CITY – President Felipe Calderon is proposing runoff elections in future presidential contests and re-election for many elected officials in the country's most dramatic political reform attempt in decades.
The proposal announced Tuesday would still limit presidents to a single, six-year term, but it would relax Mexico's ironclad ban on re-election of other officials. It also would allow independent candidates to run for public offices and would create a proposal for citizen initiatives.
"The idea is to give citizens more power, to give them the capacity to shape public life and to strengthen our democracy," Calderon said in a televised address.
Under the proposed reform, the winner of presidential elections would have to receive more than half of the votes to avoid a runoff with the next-highest vote getter.
If such a change had been in place in when Calderon was elected in 2006, he would have faced a runoff against his leftist rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Calderon only garnered 35.9 percent of the vote, a hair ahead of Lopez Obrador, who received 35.3 percent.
Lopez Obrador's supporters camped out along the capital's main Reforma Avenue for weeks after the July 2 elections to protest what they said was fraudulent balloting.
Calderon said a runoff election would give the winner a stronger mandate.
"With this proposal, it will be guaranteed that whoever has the biggest support will win," he said.
Calderon also proposed reducing the number of senators from 128 to 96 and congressmen from 500 to 400 as a way to cut government spending and "to facilitate the building of accords."
Opposition political parties did not immediately comment on the proposal.