Millions of people have been affected by this month’s two devastating earthquakes but now just as many or more are pressuring Mexico’s political parties to redirect their election financing to victims of the natural disasters.
More than three million signatures have been collected on the website change.org in support of petitions grouped under the hashtag #FuerzaMéxico, which was created in response to the massive rescue, recovery and rebuilding task the country faces.
The idea with the most support by far is a proposal that aims to pressure political parties to redirect all of the nearly 7 billion pesos (about US $380 million) in funding to areas affected by the quakes. The National Electoral Institute (INE) approved the amount last month in readiness for its distribution to parties in the lead-up to the 2018 presidential election.
The number of people visiting the website to throw their support behind the proposal has generated the highest traffic numbers the site has ever seen, change.org said in a press release.
One petition proposing that the INE donate all the election funds to victims of the two quakes has more than 1.8 million signatures while another with different wording but the same central idea has 1.6 million supporters.
Leader of the leftist party Morena, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was the first politician to support the idea — at least in part — when he said before last week’s earthquake that he would ask the INE to redirect 20% of the party’s funding, or 41 million pesos, to victims of the September 7 quake in Oaxaca and Chiapas.
However, in the wake of last week’s disaster the party increased its pledge to 50% or almost 104 million pesos.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which is currently in office under the Enrique Peña Nieto administration, has also announced that it would redirect some of its funding.
National Executive Committee president Enrique Ochoa Reza said that 25%, or 258 million pesos, of INE resources allocated to it would be redirected to the federal disaster fund Fonden.
The PRI Chamber of Deputies leader was quick to add his voice in support of the plan while the party’s upper house leader said that the Senate would create a fund that enabled access to favorable credit rates for those who needed to rebuild their homes.
The Ecological Green Party of México (PVEM) said it would redirect 25% or 85 million pesos of its funding while the National Action Party (PAN) matched Morena’s promise by committing to donate 50% or almost 207 million pesos.
The Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) pledged its support although it hasn’t yet confirmed what percentage of its funding it plans to redirect.
However, in order for the money to be redirected it will first be necessary to change some laws that govern political parties. Current laws limit party funding to spending in certain areas so the parties’ rhetoric will have to be backed up by political will and action to ensure that what they say actually becomes reality.