Photo: Senado.gob.mx

By KELIN DILLON

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) controversial “Plan B” electoral reform to Mexico’s secondary laws passed through the Mexican Senate on Wednesday, Dec. 14, with 63 votes in favor and 53 votes against, setting the stage for López Obrador to follow through on his long-term intentions to prune back the powers of the country’s autonomous electoral organization, the National Electoral Institute (INE).

The so-called Plan B reform is López Obrador’s backup plan to his now-defunct proposed constitutional electoral initiative, which failed to pass with the required two-thirds majority in the Chamber of Deputies following international pushback and widespread protests against the reform and its proposal to eliminate the INE.

Following the plan’s passage in the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, Dec. 2, with  a simple majority between AMLO’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and its allies, senate sessions on the Plan B legislation began on Monday, Dec. 12. The Morena-led Senate’s preliminary discussions proposed the elimination of additions to support Mexico’s minority parties that were previously included at the direct request of the National Regeneration Movement’s voting partners, the Green Party (PVEM) and Labor Party (PT), as part of their collaboration on voting the reform through the Chamber of Deputies.

In an effort to retain the votes of the PVEM and PT in the Senate, Morena conceded to keeping the so-called “eternal life” clause in the reform throughout the Senate’s debates, allowing Mexico’s minority parties to rollover their voter registration from year to year – even if failing to meet the legally established minimum of 3 percent of votes in an election.

More drastically, the reform included a multitude of provisions to cripple the INE’s power over the nation’s elections, severely limiting its sanctioning authorities over political parties and candidates, reducing its infrastructure and eliminating its trusts – changes heavily criticized by both opposition parties and the private sector.

While opposition parties attempted to prevent the vote earlier in the day due to alleged legislative violations, Morena managed to push the debate to the finish line on Dec. 14’s session before achieving its goals by passing Plan B with a simple majority.

However, Morena’s Senate Coordinator Ricardo Monreal notably voted against his party’s reform, announcing his opinion that Plan B could violate the Mexican Constitution.

The conservative Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Senate leader Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong similarly criticized the reform breezing through the senate, claiming it to be “a serious setback for the country” and announcing his party’s intentions to take action against the reform through the Mexican justice system.

“The PRI in the Senate will not participate in this attack,” said Osorio. “And we will go to the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary (TEPJF) to debate with arguments what you want to impose on us with numbers. We will not be the ones who endorse the dismantling of the INE. We will not be the ones who change the rules of the democratic game to benefit those who hold power today.”

With more than 1,244 reservations made against the reform in the Senate and more than 60 slated speakers set to continue the debate, it may be days before the Senate’s general approval of Plan B turns into absolute approval.

The Plan B reform will now return to the Chamber of Deputies, where it is expected to be ratified into law.

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