Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Presidencia

By KELIN DILLON

Just two days after Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced his intention to reform Mexico’s electoral system, the Mexican executive took to his daily morning press conference on Wednesday, March 30, to share a new extension to the reform, which would eliminate multi-member councils under the pretext of budget savings.

If AMLO’s reform passes in full, the executive’s party – the in-power National Regeneration Movement (Morena) – and its allies would compromise 75 percent of Mexico’s legislative body, compared to their current 55 percent share, eliminating 200 plurinominal deputies that represent the population’s diverse opinions in the process.

“Why does the electoral process cost so much if we can save half?” said López Obrador. “Why 20 billion pesos and why not 10 billion pesos? Why are there so many deputies or so many senators?”

Ironically, AMLO’s move would regress Mexico’s electoral system back to the same level of equity it was under the “old regime” of the long-dominant Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) before of the addition of plurinominales in 1977 – an elimination López Obrador’s predecessors from opposing parties, former Presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, likewise proposed during their own terms.

“This is a clear setback,” said political scientist Luis Eduardo Medina. “The plurinominales were introduced precisely so that Congress would not be dominated by the majority party. AMLO wants to return to a hegemonic, authoritarian regime of the old PRI.”

“The plurinominales represent those who vote for another option, contrary to the majority party,” added Pamela San Martín, former electoral counselor.

At the same time, AMLO announced his idea to eliminate all local electoral bodies to create one federal institute, again for purported budgetary savings.

“We are going to analyze the possibility of federalizing the electoral process, that a federalized body be the one to carry out all the elections,” said López Obrador. “Precisely so that there is no double spending, because there are federal bodies and also state bodies, so there is duplicity. If there is a constitutional reform, we could explore a single federalized electoral body.”

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