News Features

ICDD Presents Ideas on Civility at International Conference in Mexico

K-State Engagement E-News, Fall 2008 Special Edition (PDF)

by Jenny Barnes

Panelists discuss the issues surrounding Mexico's new constiutional amendment on electoral reform.

Panelists discuss the issues surrounding Mexico's new constiutional amendment on electoral reform.

In July 2006, Mexico held its most recent presidential contest. In this bitter election, conservative Felipe Calderón managed a razor-thin victory over leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Immediately after the election, charges of voter fraud and abuse of negative campaigning spread across Mexico. Organized protests paralyzed Mexico City for months following the election.

In September 2007, the Mexican Congress responded by passing a constitutional amendment on electoral reform. The amendment represented a sea change in Mexican politics. It required Mexican television to provide free air time for political parties to broadcast political ads and prohibited negative campaigning.

The Federal Electoral Court of Mexico and the Institute for Federal Elections (IFE) are the judicial and administrative authorities organized to resolve all Mexican federal election disputes.

Following the constitutional electoral reform, IFE and the Federal Electoral Court organized an international conference in Mexico City exploring "Freedom of Speech, Denigration, Negativity, and Electoral Campaigns," to address how they should best respond to the constitutional changes. Political communication and legal experts from Great Britain, Canada, Italy, Spain, Mexico and the United States were invited to attend and address negative campaigning and possible remedies.

David Procter from Kansas State University's Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy, ICDD, was one of two Americans invited to talk about the American electoral system and alternatives to negative campaigning. Procter talked about ICDD's training program in civil discourse and ICDD's participation in a national network of organizations dedicated to empowering citizen dialog and participation in political affairs.