Opposition Unites Against Energy Reform in Congress
Amid tensions over the energy reform vote in Congress, the PRI party clarified its position against the initiative, confirming that the president’s party will not obtain the qualified majority required to approve the constitutional reform. PRI's decision deals a hard blow to one of the president’s most relevant legislative projects and consolidates the legislative opposition’s union ahead of the 2022 local elections.
"After extensive analysis, we have decided to vote against the energy reform sent by President López Obrador,” said Alejandro Moreno, PRI's National President. "We made this decision after seven months of studying. We tracked the changing energy world, participated in the Open Parliament, listened to dozens of opinions and consulted with academics and specialists."
PRI's rejection comes days after President López Obrador called PRI legislators to rebel against their party's position to vote in favor of the energy reform. "It will be a shame if you side with foreign companies," declared the president.
To approve a constitutional reform, the bill must be supported by a two-thirds majority in Congress. In 2021, President López Obrador’s party, MORENA, and allies PT and PVEM, lost the two-thirds majority, forcing the government to negotiate with opposition parties when looking to pass constitutional reforms.
PAN and PRD legislators fixed their position, especially as the bill did not undergo any changes. Hope remained in negotiations to achieve the missing 57 votes. However, with PRI's resolution, the governing party could be left without the required votes to pass the new energy legislation.
The Opposition's Counterproposal
Following PRI's announcement, the opposition coalition formed by PAN, PRI and PRD presented a counterproposal to President López Obrador’s energy reform. The proposal has 12 key points:
- The establishment of access to electricity as a human right
- The creation of mechanisms so citizens can generate energy on their own or buy it at the lowest possible price
- Promotion of clean energy as the axis for the energy transition
- The creation of a free tariff so rural populations, public hospitals and daycare centers receive free electricity
- The creation of a new model to migrate legacy contracts, where power plants with more than 10 years of operation will have to migrate to the current model established in the Electric Industry Law within a year
- The opening of an electricity market for small businesses and companies
- The general planning of the electrical system will be absorbed by a new commission: the National Commission of Electricity Networks
- The autonomy of regulatory institutions separates from the federal government
- CFE’s budgetary autonomy, subject to accountability as a public agency
- The establishment of lithium as a property of the state, following the same rules as oil
The opposition's proposal remains in line with the 2014 Energy Reform, while incorporating new elements from the Open Parliament.
Rubén Moreira, Parliamentary Leader, PRI, said the opposition will introduce their energy reform proposal after the president’s project is discarded as a result of a lack of required support and after the June 2022 local elections, as the electoral process could contaminate this discussion. However, experts think the opposition’s proposal will be stalled in Congress, since the opposition also lacks the necessary number of votes to carry out such a reform.