By MARK LORENZANA
Only 13 percent of Mexicans believe that the National Electoral Institute (INE) should be eliminated, 31 percent support some sort of electoral reform and 53 percent think that the INE has been doing a good job so far, according to a telephone survey conducted by Mexican daily newspaper Reforma from Wednesday, Oct. 26, to Saturday, Oct. 29.
In the same survey, 50 percent of the respondents believe that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) seek to control the elections through a possible electoral reform that would make the INE disappear, while 43 percent believe that the Morena-led initiative intends to improve the electoral system.
Majority of the respondents — seven out of 10 interviewees — believe that if the INE were to disappear, democracy in Mexico would be in danger; in fact, 80 percent consider the autonomous, public electoral agency instrumental in guaranteeing free and fair elections in the country.
Likewise, around 61 percent of those interviewed believe that, although Mexico’s electoral system is expensive, it is worth taxpayers’ money given that that the country enjoys free and reliable elections thanks to the INE. On the contrary, only 19 percent would give priority to an electoral reform that would seek budget cuts for the electoral system.
Around 65 percent of Mexicans interviewed in the survey said they would not endorse an electoral reform two years after the upcoming presidential elections, and would instead prefer it to be done beyond 2024.
In fact, six out of 10 believe that eliminating the INE would generate doubts and mistrust in the next presidential elections, and 77 percent of the respondents predict a possible post-electoral conflict in 2024.
According to the Reforma survey, the INE enjoys the confidence of 70 percent of Mexicans, and its work is approved by 76 percent of the respondents interviewed.
A similar survey was conducted by Mexican business-focused daily El Financiero, wherein 68 percent of the people interviewed approve of the work carried out by the INE in organizing elections, which means that the electoral agency has the support of two-thirds of the country’s citizenry.
López Obrador, in his daily morning press conference on Monday, Oct. 31, at the National Palace in Mexico City, stressed the need for electoral reform, saying that “the conservatives are capable of committing fraud in 2024.”
“What we do not want is for this corrupt, anti-democratic system to continue, which is in the power of the conservatives because they are capable — and I am not speaking tentatively — of committing fraud as they have already done,” AMLO said. “And that must be avoided because it would be a setback, a very serious matter for the country, and these conservatives are capable of doing it. They already did it, they committed fraud — not once, but several times.”
Meanwhile, the Mexican Episcopate Conference (CEM) warned that the electoral initiative by López Obrador and Morena “is clearly regressive and represents an affront to democratic life.”
“The planned electoral reform constitutes an affront to democratic life, a reform designed to affect the representation and balance of minorities and majorities, taking control of the elections to the sphere of the centralist federal government, affecting its budget management and eliminating its citizen autonomy and partisan impartiality,” read a statement from the CEM, the official leadership body of the Catholic Church in Mexico.