Friday, December 1, 2023

INE chief warns electoral reform will ‘blow up’ elections

Mexico’s upcoming electoral reform will profoundly impact Mexico’s elections, National Electoral Institute (INE) president Lorenzo Córdova said on Sunday in a message posted to his Twitter account. 

The reform will “blow up the elections,” Córdova said, adding that citizens are responsible “not only for this ship being left adrift, but also for continuing to advance down a route that will consolidate our democracy.” 

Córdova called on citizens to present “all legal resources within their reach to stop the Plan B electoral reform and defend democracy.” The message was recorded during a presentation of his book, “Democracy is not to be touched,” co-written with INE councilor Ciro Murayama, and presented as a “manual for defending democracy.”

President López Obrador’s controversial “Plan B” electoral reform, which proposes reducing the budget and size of the INE and limiting its electoral oversight, was approved by both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies in December. The Senate still needs to review changes made by the Lower House during the spring legislative session, which begins on Feb. 1. 

The “Plan B” reform contemplates electoral modifications through changes to secondary laws. 

While President López Obrador initially proposed a constitutional reform, it was rejected when the ruling party Morena could not obtain the two-thirds majority vote required for constitutional changes. Secondary law changes only require a simple majority, which Morena meets with its allies, the Green Party (PVEM) and Labor Party (PT). 

On Twitter, Cordoba called on citizens to present “all legal resources within their reach” to stop the proposed electoral reform and defend democracy.

Córdova has already said that the INE will defend the electoral system through all possible means, including filing an unconstitutionality claim through the Supreme Court once the bill passes and is signed into law. The court must “stop this dismantling of our democracy,” he said. 

The INE director stressed that there is still time to avoid major damage to Mexico’s elections infrastructure. 

“There is still time to listen, talk and avoid deep damage to our electoral system,” he said. 

“This is the moment in which citizens, individually and collectively, can — and I believe we should, we must, if we want to defend democracy — present all resources within the relevant legal channels.” 

On Jan. 24, the INE released a report detailing the negative impacts the “Plan B” reform would have on the 2024 elections. The document noted that the reform impacts how the electoral registry is updated, as well as how voter credentials are processed. 

“In the event that these changes are implemented, reliable and transparent elections would be at risk,” Córdova reiterated in his message on Sunday, noting that the budget and infrastructure cuts proposed in the reform would affect how the INE delivers voter credentials. 

President López Obrador dismissed Córdova’s warnings, saying that he was “a fraud without principles or ideals.”

“The reform was approved without a serious and objective diagnosis of the operation of the electoral system that guarantees free, authentic elections, democracy with alternation, social stability and democratic governance.” 

President López Obrador responded to Córdova’s message during his morning press conference on Monday, calling him a “fraud without principles or ideals.” 

The president has long defended his reform on the claims that the INE has a bloated budget and has been responsible for electoral fraud. 

With reports from La Jornada, Reforma, Animal Politico, and El Economista

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