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Mexico’s PAN Ideological Renewal


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The PAN was founded in 1939 to fight against the socialist authoritarianism of then President Lázaro Cárdenas and, for decades, this party undertook a civic and institutional struggle in favor of human rights, market economy, democracy, family and entrepreneurs. It did this having as a guide its Principles of Doctrine, the most elemental of its documents that marked an ideological agenda based on Christian humanism.

However, upon reaching power, it wore itself out, sinned of excessive pragmatism and opportunistic elements approached the party. In addition, the lack of a majority in Congress prevented it from deploying its ideology. In great measure, for this reason, the people of Mexico judged it severely and in 2012 it lost the presidency and went down to third place, starting a hard road in the wilderness that served many PAN members to reflect on the mistakes that led it to such a hard defeat, and about the ideas that PAN should abandon from then on.

These reflections finally bore fruit this year in the elaboration of the Political Action Program of PAN. I had the privilege of having participated in the drafting commission and particularly in its economic sections.

The content: Human Rights

The program was nourished by various ideological tendencies that, from the center to the right, make up the party: Christian humanist, liberal and conservative thoughts. The document addresses many issues by putting the individual, and his rights and freedoms at the center throughout the program.

The central point of the program is the vindication of the main right: the right to life. Thus, the following is noted:

“We are in favor of the defense of life from conception to natural death, and therefore we reject to abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, and any scientific research that attempts against human life, which must be protected by the State.”

This makes PAN the only party in Mexico that defends this right in a thorough and explicit manner. Something to be thankful for at a time when the culture of death, supported by progress, is on the rise, and in many cases without getting a response.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. In a country that this year will have an unfortunate historical record of more than 40 thousand Mexicans murdered, the right to life and physical integrity is also a subject of rule of law, public safety and peace: matters that the program addresses in a complete chapter.

It also vindicates other human rights and freedoms under threat. In particular, it emphasizes freedom of expression and religion in the following terms:

“Acción Nacional is committed to the full defense of the human right to religious freedom and recognizes the rich religious traditions of the Mexican people, which are an indisputable part of our history and culture. […] Conscientious objection on ethical, moral, or religious grounds must be guaranteed, respecting the rights of all persons in a reconciled manner.

Freedom of expression must be total; its only limits must be the safeguarding of privacy, the rights of third parties and respect for the right of reply. It is the responsibility of all people to raise the level of public debate. We reject any attempt to censor the media. We stand in solidarity with the families of communicators who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.”

Educational freedom deserves a special mention. Recognizing the damage that the government’s educational monopoly has infringed, the right of parents to choose the education of their children is defended and elements of competition are introduced into education. Thus, not only in the program, but also in the electoral platform, policies such as 100% deduction of tuition fees and school vouchers are foreseen.

Again, it is helpful to read the document directly:

“Mothers and fathers have a preferential right to determine the type of education their children should receive. […]

Private schools allow mothers and fathers to exercise their right to choose the education of their children and free the State from an onerous burden, so they should be supported. Tuition fees should be fully tax-deductible so that parents have more options to freely choose the type of education they want for their children. We must develop innovative mechanisms to ensure that public resources allow mothers and fathers to recognize and choose the school that offers their children the best quality education.”

Likewise, the electoral platform develops specific policies including an explicit rejection of educational indoctrination in gender ideologies.

The economic section: defending the free market

The economic section remains in the same line as the previous one, basing its proposals on the rights of the individual. Economic freedom is, at the end of the day, nothing more than the natural consequence of the recognition of rights. Mainly of individual freedom and private property. Therefore, it is pointed out that:

“We propose a free economy where the rights to private property of all people, to entrepreneurship, to free choice of occupation, to free competition, to voluntary cooperation and free exchange of goods and services are recognized. The action of the State must complement subsidiarily the actions of companies, civil organizations, families and individuals.”

This reason, although fundamental, is not the only one in which we bet on the freedom of the market, and it is so because this is the only way to generate wealth and to reduce poverty. Therefore, the defense of capitalism is not only a matter of principle, but also one due to practical considerations:

“In Acción Nacional we assume the commitment to a Social Market Economy that places the person and his eminent dignity in the center, in which the freedom of the market is assured in order to achieve social justice and the common good, and generates an inclusive growth that eradicates poverty and guarantees equal opportunities.”

Throughout the Program, the Party is unfolding these ideas with specific issues. First, the rule of law is understood as respect for individual rights, private property and contracts:

“Respect for the rule of law is indispensable for economic development and an inclusive growth for the benefit of the entire population. Respect for individual rights, private property, the law and contracts is a necessary condition for Mexico to become a competitive country with high investment rates and the creation of well paid jobs.”

Secondly, a defense is made of small and medium enterprises. Not from a paternalistic approach, but understanding that the best thing for them is an environment where the government does not interfere, deregulates and establishes low taxes:

“Micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and cooperatives are essential elements of the national economy, since they are the greatest creators of employment […]. In order for them to flourish, they require a free economy, with few and simple regulations, competitive taxes, and the rule of law that allows them access to formal markets and credit.”

Third, the program is committed to economic stability, understood as the limitation of public debt and low inflation. The latter is guaranteed by an autonomous central bank with a single mandate:

“Economic stability is a necessary condition to achieve a healthy and growing economy, which benefits all people. To achieve stability, the government must responsibly manage public finances and public debt. Acción Nacional is committed to promoting policies that limit the capacity for indebtedness at all three levels of government, as well as transparency in debt. […]

Having a stable currency is a fundamental condition for economic development. Inflationary processes erode real wages, increase poverty, worsen income distribution, inhibit financial markets and limit growth. That is why we reiterate the importance of the Bank of Mexico being a completely autonomous institution, with the sole mandate of maintaining low and stable inflation.”

For its part, in fiscal matters it proposes simple, low and competitive taxes. Furthermore, it points out that the PAN is already leading the opposition against any attempt to establish taxes on patrimony or inheritance:

“Taxes are the contributions that citizens make so that the government can provide public goods, to which it is obligated. They must be fair, simple, competitive, universal, and administered with maximum transparency and honesty. Today Mexico has a complex, inefficient and unfair tax system, which encourages lack of tax compliance such that a few taxpayers pay the majority of the taxes.

We propose the deregulation and administrative simplification of the fiscal framework as well as a simple and efficient tax collection policy, characterized by a broader tax base and lower rates in order to stimulate investment and job creation. We reject taxes that punish savings, building up capital and inheritance by new generations.”

As for competition policy, it proposes emphasizing its deregulatory component, instead of activism against companies. In short, it is a matter of preventing the government, by way of obstacles, from preventing competition and generating monopolies:

“We oppose monopolies, whether public or private. The powers of the Federal Commission of Economic Competition must be strengthened, particularly those related to the fight against legal and regulatory barriers, so that consumers can benefit from competition and free competition in the markets.”

In this sense, special emphasis is placed on innovation and new economic models:

“The digital economy must be boosted through deregulation policies that allow innovative business models to operate. We defend the new digital platforms that offer all kinds of goods and services, since they empower citizens and promote technological development. It is not fair that in order to protect economic interests often linked to political power, the participation of entrepreneurs in various sectors, particularly in transportation, accommodation and media, be prevented.”

Finally, free trade and foreign investment are understood as opportunities for both consumers and companies to exercise their economic rights:

“Free trade allows people to choose from a greater quantity of goods and services at better prices. It should be seen as a development opportunity for Mexico’s productive sectors. All trade negotiations should emphasize the defense of a fair and just exchange. […]

Private investment, national or foreign, is indispensable to create more and better jobs and promotes technological development and innovation. It should be encouraged and stimulated.”

In short, with this program the PAN assumes for itself the role of not only being the only party in Mexico that bets on capitalism as an economic system, but it does so in a forceful and unequivocal way. It thus lays the foundation for proposing and implementing public policies consistent with the rights of individuals and promoting development.

Conclusion: What’s next?

The entire Political Action Program, including the economic section, is a step in the right direction, but it is still a first step. The challenge now is to make sure that these principles are internalized: that from the PAN mayor of the smallest town to its most influential governors and senators, turn these ideas into their actions and policies. Let them communicate them clearly, openly, effectively, with pride and without complexes. Let there be congruence between ideas, speech and actions.

In the opinion of the writer, these are the ideas that the people of Mexico need and demand, that people who in the past provided the winning margin to the Party and who today are disenchanted. A people that, at this time more than ever, want their lives, liberties, families, and properties to be defended.

Fernando Cota Acuña

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