By KELIN DILLON
Following Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) failure to sufficiently reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass his controversial electoral reform to the Mexican Constitution in the Chamber of Deputies, the federal executive followed through on his intentions to impose a “plan b” electoral reform to the nation’s secondary laws in the early hours of Wednesday, Dec. 7, successfully passing his initiative through the Chamber of Deputies with 267 votes in favor and 221 in opposition.
Shortly after the proposed constitutional reform was rejected in the Chamber of Deputies during Tuesday, Dec. 6’s vote, AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) quickly turned around for a last-minute presentation of its “plan b” reform before forcing a vote on the freshly presented matter just hours later.
While the success of plan b’s passage was once purportedly in jeopardy due to the allies of Morena – the Labor Party (PT) and Green Party (PVEM) – feeling left out of the reform process, the three-party alliance went on to reach a compromise ahead of the vote by adding the PT and PVEM’s requested provisions to the reform, which allowed for the simple majority needed to pass the secondary law reform through the Chamber of Deputies.
According to Secretary of the Interior Adán Augusto López, the initiative will change Mexico’s General Law of Electoral Institutions and Procedures, the General Law of Political Parties and the Organic Law of the Judiciary, while also creating the new General Law of the Means of Challenge in Electoral Matters, reducing the power of Mexico’s autonomous electoral monitoring body, the National Electoral Institute (INE), and slashing its funding by 3.5 billion pesos as well as entirely eliminating its trusts.
Once the reforms take effect, the INE will need to do “a new calculation and comprehensive review” of its personnel’s salaries, which now must total less than the salary received by the President of the Republic himself as established by article 127 of the Constitution – conditions which will also apply to the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF), which will likewise be reduced in funding by 1.5 billion pesos.
”Limits are established to the arbitrary actions of both the INE and the TEPJF regarding interpretations outside the law that have limited freedom of expression, political-electoral rights, the self-determination of political parties, among others,” read the reform proposal.
The reforms will also see the INE’s district offices reduced from 300 to 264, address overlapping functions between the INE and the Local Public Bodies (OPLEs) and put in place measures for Mexicans living abroad to vote in national elections online.
Similarly, the reformed laws will prevent the INE and the TEPJF from disqualifying or denying candidates from running for office, and establishes new prohibitions against propaganda from politicians, candidates or parties “that slander people, discriminate or constitute acts of political violence against women based on gender.”
If passed through the Senate, the new reforms will not take effect until after 2023’s elections, which will see local gubernatorial votes for both Coahuila and the State of Mexico.
The “plan b” reforms will now be turned over to the Mexican Senate for review. However, opposition parties – who notably walked out of the reform’s late-night debate in protest, only to return to vote against it – have already filed motions to suspend the legislation alongside complaints against Morena’s alleged violations of the legislative process, which are expected to reach the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) and could potentially present hurdles to plan b’s ultimate success.