By KELIN DILLON
Despite widespread protests against Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) proposal to reform Mexico’s autonomous electoral organization the National Electoral Institute (INE) and opposition parties’ unwillingness to collaborate with AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) to reach the two-thirds majority in the Chamber of Deputies needed to reform the Mexican Constitution, the Morena-led Chamber of Deputies has decided to proceed with its “plan b” of changing secondary laws to slash the INE’s budget – a route confirmed by López Obrador during his daily morning press conference on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 24.
“They should be ashamed, not only the publicists who launched this campaign against the reform and paid for it, but also for those who believed it,” said AMLO at the time, admonishing both vocal opponents of the reform and the Mexican electorate who demonstrated against it at once. “Because they are annoyed, they take out signs saying ‘don’t touch the INE,’ ‘we are not going to allow that the INE be destroyed,’ ‘we are not going to allow the INE to disappear.’ That was what they did, so it will no longer be possible – for now – to carry out the constitutional reform.”
“What do they not accept? That the INE officials will not earn as much, that money is saved, they do not accept that,” continued López Obrador. “Since they do not accept it, we are going to present a law that, without infringing the constitution, allows us to generate savings so that it is not so expensive to organize the elections and that the law prohibits the purchase of votes. Those are the two things that are included in the law.”
As presented to the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, Nov. 23, Morena’s original constitutional proposal will seek to consolidate and centralize the INE within the Mexican government – an initiative AMLO has long spoken in favor of – and replace it with the National Electoral and Consultation Institute (INEC), a body whose members will be elected by popular vote and will only have seven councilors, as opposed to the INE’s 11.
If passed, the proposal is likewise set to cut Mexico’s number of deputies in congress from 500 to 300, and lower the numbers of senators from 128 to 96.
While opposition parties already affirmed their commitment against touching the INE and passing any form of electoral reform to the constitutional, Morena Coordinator Ignacio Mier warned opposition parties to not “shoot themselves in the foot” as his party has already begun working on secondary law reforms for INE funding slashes as part of their “plan b” contingency.
“Opponents have many interests and they think that if the INE stays as it is, they will be able to count on an instrument for fraud,” continued AMLO during his Nov. 24 conference. “They are completely wrong. People no longer accept fraud and money. Because the reform of the constitution that we proposed is to reduce the money that is delivered to the parties, they took care of all of that, and it is understandable that this corrupt elite defends electoral fraud, because they have carried out fraud for decades.”
The vote on the constitutional electoral reform is currently slated for Monday, Nov. 28, and if it fails to pass with the necessary two-thirds majority, Morena is expected to present its “plan b” reforms that very same week.