INE Highlights Electoral Reform’s Threats to Mexican Democracy
Staff of the National Electoral Institute (INE) visited Mexico’s Senate to explain the possible consequences of López Obrador's so-called Plan B for his electoral reform, which seeks to change secondary legislation on the road to the 2024 presidential elections.
Ricardo Monreal, President, INE, highlighted that the institute hopes the meeting with the Senate’s Political Coordination Board (JCP will shed light on Plan B’s consequences. “Today, we brought in experts to present their concerns. These concerns are not from INE’s president but from the institute’s entire structure,” affirmed Lorenzo Córdova, President Councilor, INE.
Monreal emphasized that although President López Obrador has referred to his Plan B many times, he has not presented any analysis. Therefore, INE has decided to provide this data itself. Monreal denied that the INE wants to boycott the upcoming elections and stressed that it seeks to carry out its constitutional responsibilities.
INE insisted that the new legislative amendments proposed in Plan B threaten the agency's autonomy and significantly limit its ability to carry out the functions established in the Mexican Constitution. Another risk is that the reform proposes to cut 84.6% of the members of the Professional Electoral Service (SPE) who are in charge of elections in Mexico.
Plan B also calls for a budget reduction of about MX$5 billion (US$266.16 million), which would result in the layoff of 5,000 employees. This may become a serious issue since it would reduce the territorial presence of the INE and with it the number of polling stations and service modules, which would threaten the country's democracy and increase the uncertainty in electoral processes.
For months, INE has accused the government of violating the legislative process with the new reform by hastily approving it while eliminating regular procedures that provide the opportunity to debate and reach a decision by democratic means.
After the meeting with the INE, the Senate will receive 86 civil organizations to further discuss electoral reform. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) will also decide if the unconstitutionality arguments from an INE appeal are admissible.
What Happened to the Electoral Reform?
The electoral reform proposed to change 18 articles and insert seven transitional artcñes. It sought to replace INE, to eliminate plurinominal deputies and to reduce the number of federal legislators to 300 deputies and 96 senators while implementing electronic voting, among other alterations.
The Chamber of Deputies voted against the electoral reform, which failed to reach a qualified majority with 269 votes in favor, 225 against and one abstention. Political opponents highlighted that the reform was rejected for being regressive since it proposed to eliminate the most important democratic institution in the country. However, the president has accused these political parties of rejecting it because they want to maintain a high budget for their political parties.
Since the reform was rejected, the president announced his plan B, which proposes an amendment to the electoral law that does not require the approval of two-thirds of Congress. The new proposal to change the electoral laws gained 261 votes in favor and 216 against. The proposal is now being debated in the Senate.