By KELIN DILLON
While Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) National Regeneration Movement (Morena) managed to squeeze its controversial ‘plan b’ electoral reforms into passage by the Chamber of Deputies thanks to a last-minute legislative presentation and vote on the matter in the early hours of Wednesday, Dec. 7, Morena’s fast-tracked course of action has received major backlash from both the private sector and opposition parties in the days following – while Morena’s own members stand to relish in the benefits of the reform’s new political provisions.
As the reform goes to face final approval by the Mexican Senate, Mexico’s private sector has urged senators to reject the secondary law reforms and prevent their full passage into legislation.
“The approval of ‘plan b’ in a framework of legislative clutter represents a threat against democracy and a challenge to the citizens who demonstrated throughout the country,“ said Employers Confederation of the Mexican Republic (Coparmex) President José Medina Mora. “It is not the result of consensus, but of an imposition.”
“We call on the Senate of the Republic so that they do not endorse the modifications to secondary laws on electoral matters, which were approved in the Chamber of Deputies,” added Medina.
Coparmex also issued its own statement condemning the reform, saying that “from the Federal Executive and Morena abusing its parliamentary majority, they chose to approve the reforms in fast track, without the legislators even knowing the content of what they were going to vote on, without technical opinions, without dialogue, in a sloppy way and without carrying out the due legislative process, without an in-depth analysis and without a broad discussion in commissions before taking to the plenary session, the reforms to secondary laws known as the ‘plan b,’ violating the National Electoral Institute (INE), the Local Electoral Public Organizations (OPLEs), as well as the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF).”
Meanwhile, one of Morena’s opposition parties in the Chamber of Deputies, the Citizens’ Movement (MC), filed what is expected to be the first of many lawsuits and amparos against the fast-tracked reform, claiming that ‘plan b’ ignored Mexico’s established procedures in the legislative process and violated rules for inter-party debates on the matter before pushing the reforms to a vote.
“We are going to fight all the battles; the political battle in the Senate, the judicial battle when the time is right in the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), even in the TEPJF,” said MC Parliamentary Coordinator Jorge Álvarez Máynez. “The seriousness of what was done warrants immediate action, which is why today we are resorting to federal justice through the amparo trial, because what was done yesterday has no name, has no precedents and has no legal loophole.”
The suit alleges that the reforms in question were introduced to the Chamber of Deputies just minutes before they were discussed and without a concrete finalized version, forcing deputies to vote on legislation whose ultimate included content was unknown, without sufficient time for analysis and debate.
While opposition parties reportedly requested four times to suspend the ‘plan b’ discussion until a later date, Morena blocked these attempts with its majority in the Chamber of Deputies.
According to Álvarez Máynez, the suit was presented to Mexico’s District Courts in administrative matters, which have the power to declare the ‘plan b’ presentation and vote as illegal and null and void. Likewise, the MC requested for the amparo to be fully resolved before the legislation goes to the senate for discussion.
“We are presenting an amparo against the flagrant violation of the legislative process, there are precedents in the SJCN that give us the power to resort to the amparo, to protect ourselves against this violation of our rights as legislators, as Mexican citizens and as people who have the constitutional right to live in a democracy and that the legislative process for the approval of laws be respected,” continued Álvarez Máynez.
However, Morena Senate Coordinator Ricardo Monreal seemingly took a more egalitarian view on the matter than his fellow party members, saying that “we are going to ensure that all parliamentary groups are heard” on the matter and that “the Senate will act with serenity and good judgment, it will be a rational, intelligent discussion; we are going to take care of the legal procedure, the ordinary procedure, there will be no so-called fast track” following the reforms’ approval in the Chamber of Deputies.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, both elected officials and potential candidates of Morena are preparing to take advantage of the reform’s new candidacy eligibility provisions, which undercut the INE’s precedent rulings on propaganda and the use of public resources as electoral interference.
Under ‘plan b,’ candidates who have been proven to have committed electoral crimes – such as improper dissemination of political propaganda – will no longer be barred from running for office and will instead remain eligible for candidacy, circumventing article 134 of the Mexican Constitution.
Major Morena figureheads such as Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, Secretary of the Interior Adán Augusto López and Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard have all previously received propaganda sections from the INE, with Morena receiving a total of 30 complaints for improper campaign acts and illegal use of public resources for political promotion during 2022.