By Hook or by Crook


Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Google


Ignacio Mier, president of the Political Coordination Board (Jucopo) of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies and concurrent parliamentary coordinator of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), said on Tuesday, March 28, that the election of four new directors of the National Electoral Institute (INE) will be done through a raffle. Mier said that the draw will take place at the San Lazaro Legislative Palace, that the procedure does not need to involve the Mexican Supreme Court (SCJN) and that “the inauguration of the new INE directors will be no later than March 31.”

In a press conference at the end of Tuesday’s meeting of the Jucopo, Mier said that the Morena bench in Congress is “open to building an agreement with the opposition coalition to elect the new INE president and three advisers,” but “not through a distribution of quotas.”

Mier railed against “the conservative tradition of quotas” — that is, giving a fair shake to other political parties by allocating a certain quota of candidates per party — and insisted on a raffle.

All well and good, but there’s just one problem, and a big one at that: Many of the candidates for the INE vacancies included in the San Lazaro draw have ties to Morena, which actually runs counter to giving the other political parties a fair shake.

Consider this: Maite Azuela — a member of the Technical Evaluation Committee representing the National Institute for Transparency Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI) — flagged six of the 20 candidates, saying that they are not suitable due to their “lack of autonomy and independence required by the position.”

López Obrador likewise insisted on a raffle when asked during his daily morning press conference on Wednesday, March 29, if “it is time to end political quotas.”

AMLO said it might be better to add luck or fortune into the equation, and even quoted Italian Renaissance philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli.

“Yes, ideally there should be no quota. Instead, what we should add is fortune, Machiavelli would say, which is luck,” López Obrador said. “Machiavelli said that in politics you need virtue and fortune, virtue and luck. Well, something like that. Of course, I am not a legislator, I am the head of the (Mexican) executive. But it would be good if we didn’t resort to quotas.”

Historian and political analyst José Antonio Crespo, in a Wednesday column for Mexican daily newspaper El Universal, said that López Obrador doesn’t like quotas and prefers “cuates” — roughly translated as friends or buddies — referring to AMLO’s Morena-sympathizer candidates for the INE posts.

“AMLO wants to discard the ‘quotas’ part, since that implies that the other parties will have a part in those INE positions,” wrote Crespo. “What he wants is for his party to be the only one that props up those directors (cuates yes, quotas no).”

To be fair to López Obrador, though, he has never been shy in admitting that — in his own words — there is nothing wrong with INE directors who are sympathetic to Morena, calling it “legally and morally valid.”

“To begin with, more than half of Mexican citizens sympathize with our movement. If there is an election, half have the possibility of participating,” López Obrador said. “Even if they sympathize with our movement, they can legally occupy an INE seat because the law does not prohibit it.”

When asked by journalists in a press conference on Monday, March 27, if that was morally valid, the president replied that it was, “because they have the right.”

“Generally, look, very honestly and with all due respect, conservatives are very hypocritical and corrupt. They want to continue maintaining control of the INE,” he said.

In that same press conference, López Obrador went even further and said that his Plan C is to urge people “not to vote for the conservative bloc.”

“There is a Plan C, so don’t think that everything is over. Do not vote for the conservative bloc, so that the transformation continues, not even a single vote for the conservatives. Yes to transformation. That is Plan C,” said López Obrador. “We already applied it in 2018 (when he finally won the presidency on his third try). It was the people who said ‘enough,’ and the transformation began.”

Incidentally, the INE on Thursday, March 30, ordered the Office of the Presidency of the Republic to “eliminate statements of the president about his Plan C” from “videos, audiovisuals and stenographic versions, as well as any other platform” and said that “the president would be committing an illegality by asking society to vote for one option and not another,” a situation that, the INE argued, would impact the upcoming gubernatorial elections in the State of Mexico (Edoméx) and Coahuila.

Plan C — which is essentially foisting candidates that are sympathetic to AMLO’s Morena, to occupy the INE’s top posts — immediately came out after SCJN Justice Javier Laynez overturned AMLO’s Plan B.

It’s safe to say that, sooner or later — even if it requires a Plan D or, probably, until a Plan Z — López Obrador and Morena will eventually get what they want with the INE.

By hook or by crook.

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