The ‘Pact for Mexico’ has served its purpose and most probably will not be as essential a part of President Peña Nieto’s reform strategy as was the case during the first year of his administration. After showing cross-party support for labor, education, telecommunications, banking and fiscal reforms, Congress last week approved the most important reform of them all: changes to the Mexican Constitution that will open the door to private sector investment in oil, gas and electricity for the first time since President Cárdenas expropriated the industry in 1938.
Although many of the reforms passed in 2013 still need implementing legislation that will determine the details of how they will be applied, it’s clear that Peña Nieto has expended much of his political capital to push through more structural reforms than any of his immediate predecessors, even though it has not translated into high popularity figures for him in public opinion polls. Now that the energy reform has passed Congress and will be signed into law before the end of the year, Mexico’s president and the main political parties will have succeeded where many in the past failed. The main challenge for Peña Nieto in the remaining five years of his sexenio will be to preside over an economy that will grow at over 3 percent each year as a result of all these reforms, create many more and better jobs for Mexicans and significantly reduce the number of people who live in poverty.