A key Mexican opposition party will vote against a power market reform championed by the country’s president, the party’s leader said on Monday, a development that could prove fatal for a proposal that aims to give the state greater control over the sector.
Alejandro Moreno, the head of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, argued in a speech that the proposed reform would not be beneficial.
“We’ve decided to vote against it,” he said to rousing applause from party lawmakers.
Moreno added that the PRI and two other opposition parties will instead offer an alternative bill.
Moreno, also a federal congressman, said his caucus’ opposition to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s proposal came after an analysis of the legislation, which also seeks to nationalize Mexico’s future lithium industry.
Lopez Obrador, a leftist energy nationalist, has pitched the overhaul as needed to keep a lid on creeping energy prices by giving more control over the power market to state-owned electricity company Comision Federal de Electricidad.
The bill would give priority to the CFE’s plants, which overwhelmingly burn fossil fuels for power generation, overturning existing law that requires the lowest-cost power to be dispatched first.
Lopez Obrador’s reform needs a congressional supermajority to pass because it includes constitutional changes and the president’s MORENA party controls only slim majorities in Congress.
The PRI’s 71 votes in the lower house had been seen as Lopez Obrador’s best chance at securing the 53 additional votes he would need in the chamber.
But the PRI’s willingness to back the president’s reform was always seen as an uphill climb since it was Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, former President Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI, who pushed through his own market-friendly 2013 energy reform.
MORENA’s legislative leaders have said they aim to approve the reform by late April.