By MARK LORENZANA
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 26, at his daily press conference accused Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) of “putting the elections at risk,” after its General Council — which is composed of 11 directors — voted unanimously to resort to every legal option at its disposal to stop AMLO’s ‘plan b’ electoral reform.
“How is the election going to be put at risk? It is them (the INE) who have put the election at risk; it has always been them,” said López Obrador.
“Aren’t they the ones who allow the stuffing of ballot boxes, the falsification of records? Are not the electoral authorities the ones who steal the ballots? Are not the electoral authorities the ones that allow the buying of votes? Aren’t they the ones who gave registration to candidates for the presidency who did not meet the requirements, because the president at that time asked them to? What they want is to continue attacking us.”
López Obrador’s electoral reform includes provisions that could cripple the INE’s power over the country’s elections, massively limiting its sanctioning authorities over political parties and candidates, as well as reducing its infrastructure and eliminating its trusts.
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the 11 INE directors — including Norma de la Cruz, Carla Humphrey and Uuc-Kib Espadas, who are linked to AMLO’s very own leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) — demonstrated, while giving specific examples, the negative impacts of the new electoral regulations.
The directors said that AMLO’s plan b will not only impact the planning process of the 2024 presidential elections, but also the concurrent elections in 31 states. After an internal review, the INE concluded that the electoral reform could cause nationwide electoral collapse.
INE President Lorenzo Córdova warned that if plan b isn’t stopped in the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), Mexicans will be witness to an unprecedented pre-electoral and post-electoral uncertainty as the aftermath of “the largest election in the country’s history.”
“We must all prepare ourselves for 2024, for weeks of conflict in the face of what could be blatant inequality during the campaign period and an inevitable uncertainty about the results of the elections,” Córdova said. “What’s at stake is the future of democratic governance and public peace.”
Ricardo Monreal, leader of the Morena majority bloc in the Mexican Senate, expressed his doubts that the plan b electoral reform will emerge intact from the impending review that the SCJN will carry out.
In an interview with Mexican daily newspaper El Universal, Monreal also said that the dismissal of INE workers is not right, and added that he hoped the workers’ situation would be resolved correctly and fairly, in accordance with the Mexican Constitution and the law.
“I am on the side of the INE workers, and hopefully they can keep their jobs. Whenever a person loses their job, it makes me sad, and obviously when there are hundreds and they are trained and educated using state resources, it makes me even sadder. My solidarity is with the workers of the INE,” he said.
Part of López Obrador’s plan b electoral reform is reducing the INE’s district offices nationwide from 300 to 264, as well as slashing the agency’s funding by 3.5 billion pesos. The reform had faced massive backlash from both the private sector and opposition political parties in December of last year.