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  • Documents on Democracy


On 1 September 1997, two months after legislative elections brought an end to his party’s total domination of Mexican national politics, President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León delivered his annual State of the Union Address to a divided Congress (see articles on pp. 13–57 above). Excerpts from his speech appear below:

The vote of the Mexican people has given this legislature a pluralistic composition that should encourage respectful dialogue and agreements, mindful always of the higher interest of the nation. I am fully confident that the legislative and executive branches of government will maintain a mature, constructive relationship that will be useful for the country. Achieving that relationship should be the next step in strengthening the democratic normality attained through the efforts of all the political forces on July 6.

Indeed, on July 6 the country took a major step forward in reaching democratic normality. That day marked the culmination of the aim I expressed on 1 December 1994, of working to ensure that this year’s federal elections would satisfy everyone as to the manner in which they were conducted, regardless of the results. To achieve that aim, in January 1995 I called upon all the national political parties to undertake a definitive electoral reform. . . .

As a result of that reform, the institute responsible for organizing, computing, and validating the elections gained full autonomy from the government. The personnel of the Federal Electoral Institute and the hundreds of thousands of public-spirited citizens who generously contributed to organizing the elections deserve our utmost appreciation. As a result of that reform, the executive branch no longer intervenes in the settlement of disputes that may arise in elections. They are now settled by a tribunal that forms part of the judiciary and is therefore totally independent from the executive branch.

Furthermore, the different political parties were provided with a fair [End Page 180] and transparent allocation of public funding for their campaigns and with equitable access to the electronic-communications media. In short, the foundation was laid to make the elections not only legal, but also fair. Also, thanks to the reform, Mexico City residents for the first time elected the regent of the Federal District.

When I encouraged electoral reform, I did so in the complete surety that intense political competition and the pluralistic results it produces would contribute to national unity, political stability, and progress for the country. I have always been confident that free and open competition would enable each of us to shoulder our commitment to democracy in the practice of a genuine ethic of political responsibility: an ethic of responsibility that includes unwavering defense of our laws and respect for our institutions; an ethic of responsibility that encourages tolerance and restraint, not confrontation and rancor; that favors dialogue, not imposition; that stimulates truly viable proposals for Mexico’s development. An ethic of responsibility that recognizes that in our nation’s progress the only indispensable and truly significant role is played by the people of Mexico.

I am certain that at every decisive moment that ethic—which I have tried to honor by calling for and encouraging political reform—will prevail. That ethic of responsibility serves the interests of us all because, within the framework of the law, it must govern our civic life; it must govern the treatment given and received by each of us in our democratic life. We are all going to need that ethic of responsibility, because enormous tasks lie before us that can only be completed through respectful collaboration among the branches of the government.

Furthermore, today I reiterate my firm will and unwavering commitment to see to it that the federal government continues working with respect for and in harmony with all the state and municipal governments, regardless of the political party they represent.

President Zedillo’s speech was followed by a response from Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, who was elected by a coalition of opposition parties as president of the lower chamber:

By the will of the voters, all congressmen and senators represent the nation; our origins or parties are unimportant. Consequently we assume the commitment to honor our duties, always acting with...