It matters in more ways than what makes the headlines these days – it matters not only because of shared security interests, but also because the US and Mexican economies are inextricably linked. Mexico’s upcoming elections matter because the newly elected leader will help set the tone and policies for US-Mexico diplomatic, trade, and security relations, among others. Open and transparent discussion of tangible policy issues with input from a variety of civil society actors can help create stronger, sounder policies that will help Mexico on a path towards greater equity and prosperity. The Center for Research and Development (CIDAC), a Mexican think tank and CIPE partner, is trying to foster exactly this kind of discussion.
On April 30, 2012 CIDAC launched a new platform for debate, designed to create a space for in-depth discussion of policy proposals. This forum, called Debate Electoral (Electoral Debate) brings together experts on various economic and social policy areas, poses a central question, and gives each expert an allotted amount of time to answer the question. CIDAC also follows up with other questions, and visitors to the site can weigh in on the discussion and vote for who they think “won” the debate.
Thus far CIDAC has sponsored seven debates on topics ranging from oil subsidies to education to justice. So far the Electoral Debate app on Facebook has garnered 8,299 visits, 3,562 likes, and has been shared 89 times. Debate topics, such as subsidies, have been presented to the candidates, and PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota even discussed her position on the topic of subsidies during the first presidential debate.
Additionally, CIDAC interviewed PANAL candidate Gabriel Quadri on this subject and posted the interview on the Electoral Debate platform. A debate like this, using social media, is something new for Mexico, and is one that allows more citizens and civil society actors to view and discuss important, substantive issues from a variety of perspectives.
Economic policy, security, justice, and education are hot topics in this year’s race to Los Pinos. They are also all policy areas that will benefit from an open dialogue, much like the one CIDAC is trying to create. Anyone can participate in these discussions (provided they can read and write in Spanish), and input from anyone with an interest in Mexico is welcome.
Whether the PRI sweeps the election, or any of the other candidates make an unlikely leap from behind to win, input from think tanks like CIDAC and other civil society actors can only help strengthen Mexico’s democracy and contribute to more effective policy-making that will benefit Mexico, and subsequently, the United States.
When Mexico flourishes, so will the United States.