(Updates with details of the proposal starting in second paragraph.)
Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s lower house passed changes to the country’s constitution that would allow independent candidates not affiliated with a political party to run for office, including the presidency, and give Congress the power to call national referendums.
In a 418-15 vote with 2 abstentions, lawmakers approved the constitutional amendment, which represents a scaled-down version of a proposal made by President Felipe Calderon.
Under the new legislation, the president may propose two “priority bills” per congressional session that lawmakers must vote on before the period’s end. It also allows citizens to propose laws.
Last April, the Mexican Senate passed this initiative, including a proposal that would allow lawmakers to serve up to 12 consecutive years in office, though the lower house rejected the measure and decided to call a national referendum on the re- election issue.
Deputies also discarded an article agreed by the Senate that would allow the president to veto the annual budget approved by Congress.
To become law, the constitutional amendment must be reconciled with a version approved in the Senate and then needs the approval from at least half of Mexico’s state legislatures, as well as the president’s signature.
The constitution doesn’t currently allow the president or Congress to call national referendums to vote on public policy issues.
According to the new legislation, independent candidates may seek office after the 2012 elections.
--With assistance from Carlos Manuel Rodriguez and Nacha Cattan in Mexico City and Thomas Black in Monterrey. Editors: Jose Enrique Arrioja, Robert Jameson
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