By KELIN DILLON
On Monday, Oct. 24, the Venice Commission – an advisory board on constitutional matters for international human rights organization the Council of Europe – published an opinion condemning Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) plans to reform Mexico’s electoral laws, a stance taken following the organization’s review of the situation at the request of the Mexican National Electoral Institute (INE).
“Modifying a system that works well in general and that enjoys the trust of the different parties after several electoral cycles and years of democratic evolution inevitably runs the risk of that trust being shaken,” read the Venice Commission’s opinion, noting that the proposed reforms to the Mexican electoral system does not offer the same assurance as the procedures already set in place.
The Venice Commission went on to add that the constitutional changes and creation of the National Institute for Elections and Consultations (INEC) – which López Obrador purportedly intends to replace the INE with – “does not provide sufficient guarantees for independence and impartiality” for either the INEC or the judges on Mexico’s electoral tribunal.
Instead, the Venice Commission says all electoral officials should be appointed based on “professional criteria” and offer “a balanced representation of all political forces” with an emphasis on equality.
Part of López Obrador’s electoral reform proposal included the implementation of proportional voting system with 32 constituencies, something the Venice Commission says would give the INEC “very limited” ability to intervene in the processes if something goes awry, while the proposal to eliminate permanent personnel in the voting process in favor of temporary personnel could create “a negative impact on the quality of the elections” and undermine voter confidence.
In conclusion, the Venice Commission recommended “a more in-depth public debate” on the potential ramifications or outcomes of AMLO’s proposed electoral reforms to the Mexican Constitution.
On the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 25, López Obrador took to his daily public press conference to respond, taking up nearly 15 minutes of the event to express his displeasure on the Venice Commission’s opinion.