The Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF) has confirmed that two Morena party candidates cannot contest the upcoming elections for governor in Guerrero and Michoacán.
At a virtual session on Tuesday, the court upheld the National Electoral Institute’s (INE) decision to strip Félix Salgado and Raúl Morón of their candidacies because they failed to report their precampaign expenses. Its decision came after the two candidates challenged the INE’s ruling.
Six of seven judges voted in favor of barring Salgado from contesting the June 6 election in Guerrero, while Morón was blocked from running in Michoacán by a 5–2 vote.
Morena, Mexico’s ruling party, was given a period of 48 hours to nominate new candidates for governor in the two states.
Salgado, a federal senator on leave who has been accused of rape by several women and faced widespread opposition to his candidacy, appeared before the TEPJF on Monday to plead his case in a closed session that lasted almost five hours. He said on Twitter that he spoke in the “name of everyone” with a “cool head” and a “warm heart.”
“Our voice was heard, and we place trust in the decision … the judges will have to give,” Salgado wrote.
At a press conference on Monday, Salgado, a former mayor of Acapulco, blamed Morena for not submitting the report of his precampaign expenses to the INE. He said he had reported those expenses to Morena on January 9 but it failed to pass the information on to the electoral authorities by the January 11 deadline.
He said the INE failed to notify him that his expenses hadn’t been reported before it canceled his registration as a candidate on March 25. “That’s serious,” Salgado said. “The INE committed grave violations.”
In a video message posted to social media on Tuesday night, Morón called the TEPJF’s decision “unconstitutional, illegal and arbitrary.” He said he remained committed to the “fourth transformation,” a nickname for the federal government and the Morena movement more broadly, and he expressed confidence that the party would win the gubernatorial election in Michoacán.
President López Obrador, Morena’s founder, earlier this month called INE’s decision to bar Salgado and Morón from running an “attack on democracy.”
On Wednesday, he described the electoral court’s decision as a “blow” to the “fledgling Mexican democracy.”
The ruling to strip Salgado and Morón of their candidacies for not reporting their precampaign expenses — less than 20,000 pesos (US $1,000) in both cases — “has no justification,” López Obrador said, charging that the TEPJF and the INE failed to take the view of everyday citizens into account.
“I think that it is excessive but also antidemocratic. That’s why I say that it was a blow to democracy because democracy is to respect the will of the people; in democracy it’s the people who decide, it’s the people who are in charge,” he said.