The general council of the National Electoral Institute. Photo: INE

By KELIN DILLON

Mexico’s National Electorate Institute (INE) voted on Friday, Jan. 15, to reduce Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) influence on the upcoming midterm elections this summer by limiting his speech during his daily morning press conferences until the campaign trail for the elections has finished.

The vote passed through the INE’s general council with a tally of nine in favor and two against.

López Obrador has caught flack throughout his presidency for repeatedly using his daily presidential press conferences to speak out against opponents and critics of his administration.

Article 134 of the Mexican Constitution prohibits the president of Mexico from “using public resources in favor or against a party.”

The INE said López Obrador will no longer be allowed to talk during his morning press conferences or any public event about any candidates, the internal affairs and financing of any political parties, or about the electoral process itself until Mexico’s midterms have concluded.

INE President Lorenzo Córdova confirmed that AMLO will still be able to hold his press conferences as usual, contrary to some beliefs that the morning events would be banned outright, and will only be prevented from saying anything that could influence the public’s votes in accordance with Article 134 of the Mexican Constitution.

With this vote, the holding of morning conferences is not being prohibited, much less is their transmission being limited,” said Carla Humphrey, electoral counselor of the INE.

“It is asking the president, and also the heads of executive powers or any public servant, to refrain from speaking on certain issues due to the impact they may have on electoral processes.”

Article 134 of the Mexican Constitution prohibits the president of Mexico from “using public resources in favor or against a party,” as well as “personalized propaganda” and “speaking for or against any party.”  

Córdova said influential speech by a public figure during the election season is “prohibited by the constitution, not by the INE, by establishing that all public officials must adhere to the principle of impartiality,” and affirmed that this constitutional article will be applied to all public officials, not only López Obrador.

AMLO and the INE have had a contentious relationship throughout his presidency, with López Obrador claiming just last week that the INE is out to “censor” him, with the electoral institute’s verdict surely adding onto the president’s discontentment with the independent agency.

The INE’s new limits on public officials should take effect on April 4, when the campaign trail for June’s elections begins. 

…Jan. 18, 2021

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