Mexico’s Political Parties Unite against Electoral Judiciary
By KELIN DILLON
On Monday, April 10, the Constitutional Points Commission of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies met to discuss the potential implementation of a new constitutional reform – what’s now being called the “Impunity Law” – made to curtail the power of the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Power of the Federation (TEPJF) and severely limit its ability to issue judgments against Mexico’s political parties and deputies’ individual actions.
In an uncharacteristically unified move between the in-power National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and the party’s usual opponents, the conservative National Action Party (PAN), Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the legislative collaborators jointly proposed altering Articles 41, 73, 99 and 105 of the Mexican Constitution to prevent the TEPJF from its alleged overstepping into the legislative branch’s sphere of influence.
This would essentially allow Mexico’s legislative deputies to operate at will without any outside intervention by the TEPJF, regardless of the legitimacy or legality of said deputies’ actions.
The reforms also largely stop the TEPJF from effectively interpreting Mexico’s laws as a judicial authority, still allowing the TEPJF to identify when Mexico’s legislation has overstepped human rights but preventing the judicial body from establishing any required remedial steps for the Chamber of Deputies to follow post-ruling.
These constitutional changes subsequently mean that the TEPJF cannot issue affirmative action rulings to address gender parity or underrepresented groups and must stay “subject to the limit of the literal wording of the law and Mexican Constitution” when making decisions, preventing some of Mexico’s most vulnerable groups from seeking judgments with the TEPJF due to not being explicitly mentioned within the constitution.
Meanwhile, members of the Chamber of Deputies would only stand to benefit from the new constitutional reforms; outside of newfound impunity from the TEPJF, Mexican legislators would also be granted the exclusive power to pass legislation surrounding the political-electoral rights of Mexico’s political parties.
Only the Citizens’ Movement (MC) party stood in public opposition to the proposal, criticizing its usual allies the PAN, PRI and PRD for hypocritically collaborating with Morena on a constitutional reform to weaken the Mexican court systems after being so staunchly opposed to the controversial constitutional electoral reform proposed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) fall of last year.
“The proposal weakens Mexico’s democratic advancements and puts an end to 26 years of work and consolidation of this specialized body to guarantee electoral political rights,” said MC coordinator Jorge Álvarez Máynez. “Mexico needs autonomous and solid institutions that serve as a counterweight to political power.”
According to TEPJF Superior Chamber Magistrate Felipe de la Mata Pizaña, the pending constitutional reforms will prevent the court from protecting the political rights of Mexican citizens.
“We must not make fools of ourselves. Electoral jurisprudence is what has forced the parties to comply with the law on the matter, because they were the ones who were frauding the law when gender quotas existed and it was determined that there could be (depending on the year being analyzed) 30 or 40 percent women as candidates,” said de la Mata Pizaña.
“I am not exaggerating when I say that the accelerated progress on parity issue in Mexico has actually been made due to the jurisprudence of the court,” added the TEPJF magistrate. “Historically, I have not seen the political parties with any spirit of complying with parity, but on the contrary, of actively not complying with these issues.”
Some say Morena’s quest to limit the TEPJF has only been exacerbated by TEPJF Magistrate Janine Otálora’s recently announced initiative to declare the mandated term extension of Morena President Mario Delgado Carrillo as unconstitutional, a ruling Delgado has since claimed as a violation Morena’s internal party life by the TEPJF.
While the Chamber of Deputies is set to vote on the judiciary-limiting constitutional reforms during its plenary session on Tuesday, April 11, opinion columnist for daily Mexican newspaper Reforma F. Bartolomé succinctly summed up the true impact of the reforms on Mexico during his daily column on Monday, April 10.
“The worst thing is that those who will lose out will be, as always, Mexico’s ordinary citizens, who will lose rights and opportunities within the parties, leaving the bureaucracy above society once again,” concluded Bartolomé.