July 14, 2013 / 10:04 PM / 4 years ago

Mexico opposition parties again threaten to walk away from economic pact

MEXICO CITY, July 14 (Reuters) - Mexico's opposition parties on Sunday blasted the government for failing to combat political corruption and threatened to walk away from a pact that aims to strengthen the economy unless President Enrique Pena Nieto makes swift concessions on electoral reform.

After taking office in December, Pena Nieto announced a pact with the opposition to pass reforms aimed at boosting the country's tax revenues and buoying production at state-owned oil giant Pemex

The pact, signed by the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and Pena Nieto's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), appeared under threat last week after campaigns for state and local elections deteriorated into mud-slinging and violence.

At a news conference on Sunday in Mexico City, PAN Chairman Gustavo Madero and PRD chief Jesus Zambrano slammed the PRI for not complying with prior calls to safeguard the polls but said they would remain in the pact if their conditions, aimed at cleaning up elections, were met.

"In the frenetic rush of governors to restore the state party regime, there was nothing more than indifference and complacency on the part of the federal government, headed by Enrique Pena Nieto," Zambrano said, echoing frequent criticism of the PRI.

In exchange for remaining in the pact, Madero and Zambrano said they expected the government to perform an "exhaustive" investigation into the July 7 elections, assigning blame to candidates and parties that illegally used public funds to finance campaigns.

They also asked the PRI to approve in an extraordinary session of Congress a pending political and electoral reform aimed at combating bad practices ahead of the next elections, among other measures.

The reform is likely to seek changes that would permit direct run-off votes between presidential candidates, re-election of lawmakers and tougher sanctions for electoral crimes.

By pushing through these measures, the opposition hopes to weaken the hand of the PRI, which ruled Mexico for most of the last century.

Despite spending 12 years in opposition between 2000 and 2012, the PRI continued to dominate regional and local politics and runs two-thirds of the Mexican states.

Mexico's lower house of Congress is slated to meet in a special session beginning this week, before the regular session begins in September. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Noe Torres; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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