President Andrés Manuel López Obrador presented a new electoral initiative to Congress that proposes changing 18 constitutional articles and inserting seven transitional ones. The initiative seeks to replace the National Electoral Institute (INE), eliminate plurinominal deputies, reduce the number of federal legislators to 300 deputies and 96 senators and implement electronic voting. The reform, backed by MORENA, has been criticized by the opposition, which has linked it to the electoral model of Bolivia, Cuba or Venezuela.
“We need to return to a model where citizens are the ones who chose the electoral authorities and not the leadership of the parties that make agreements in Congress, so any attempt at electoral fraud by any political actor or electoral body is eliminated once and for all,” said Horacio Duarte, Head, National Customs Agency of Mexico (ANAM), during López Obrador’s morning press conference from the National Palace.
Some of the justifications given by López Obrador for the proposal date back to the 2006 elections, when PAN’s Felipe Calderón Hinojosa was elected president. Claudia Anaya, Senator, PRI, claimed that López Obrador’s proposed reform arises from the belief that an election was stolen from him. MORENA’s opposition stated they will fight the reform.
The main points of the reform include:
- The creation of a New National Institute for Elections and Consultations (INEC) and the elimination of the 32 Local Public Electoral Organizations (OPLE). This would make INEC the sole election authority that would be in charge of organizing all electoral processes in the country, federal and local. The organization would also be in charge of popular consultations and the mandate revocation election.
- The removal of some councilors and magistrates to elect new ones by popular vote, the elimination of the 300 electoral districts and a reduction of the number of legislators
- Changes to the mandate revocation election to lower the threshold for the results to be binding from 40 percent to 33 percent.
Some are calling the reform an attack on INE, with which López Obrador’s government has had several frictions. The president aims to replace INE to “make democracy less expensive in our country; it is an old demand from the people: that they stop spending money on electoral processes and that the money that can be saved is allocated to social issues, infrastructure and education.” If approved, the reform is supposed to bring savings of about MX$24 billion (US$1.17 billion).
Representatives from the PAN political party claim that the reform resembles models used by anti-democratic countries. MORENA’s opposition has also claimed that electoral reform will not pass. “We are saying this now and clearly: the reform will not pass. I have said it repeatedly and I repeat it today: it will only be over our dead bodies that they are going to touch the autonomy and independence of the INE”, stressed Damián Zepeda, Senator, PAN.
Luis Carlos Ugalde, former President, Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), the institution that preceded INE, told CNN Latin America that “The President is using this reform for propaganda purposes. I do not like the tone or that he is starting from false premises that Mexico continues to have electoral fraud. The reform will not be approved and the President will take this as a new opportunity to attack INE and it could also lend itself to the fact that if his party does not win the elections in 2024, it can blame it on the fact that his reform was not accepted.”
For the proposal to be approved, MORENA requires a qualified majority, which it does not have. In the Chamber of Deputies, López Obrador needs 334 votes out of 500 but MORENA and its allies have only 277 seats.