The ruling Morena party has accused the National Electoral Institute (INE) of sabotaging this Sunday’s referendum at which citizens will be asked whether past presidents and other ex-officials should be investigated for crimes they might have committed while in office.
The party’s secretary general said the INE and opposition parties will be to blame if the 40% voter turnout – approximately 37 million Mexicans – required to make the vote binding is not achieved.
“If the consultation doesn’t achieve its objective in terms of participation to be binding, without a doubt the main reason … will be the INE,” Citlalli Hernández said in an interview with the newspaper Milenio.
While many citizens have promoted the referendum, the INE “has placed obstacles” in the way of participation because it has barely publicized it, expressed opinions against it and will only set up one-third the number of voting points it set up at last month’s elections, she said.
“… The job of the electoral authority is to use all its institutional strength to promote citizens’ participation, but we see a systematic process that allows us to affirm that the INE is sabotaging this cons,ultation,” Hernández said.
She claimed that some INE officials have become political activists who are opposed to President López Obrador (who proposed the referendum) Morena, and all the initiatives they put forward.
“… The consultation is legitimate, legal and constitutional and the job of the INE is to guarantee citizens’ participation … but they [INE officials] have discredited it publicly and they’re increasingly driven … by their [political] affinities and phobias,” Hernández said.
“In addition to discouraging [participation], I believe that the electoral authority has shown scant seriousness in attending to such an important process as this referendum is.”
Hernández also took aim at opposition parties, saying that their call for citizens to boycott the vote – in which the Institutional Revolutionary Party and National Action Party presidents are referred to indirectly in the referendum question – is an attack on democracy.
“Any persons who call themselves democrats must promote it [democracy] regardless of the content of the consultation,” she said.
Morena national president Mario Delgado also accused the INE of sabotage, asserting on Twitter that thousands of Mexicans have been unable to locate their nearest voting station when using the INE website tool designed for that purpose.
“The sabotage of the INE before the referendum is unbelievable, its system doesn’t work; we have thousands of reports of people unable to locate their [voting] table,” he wrote. “… We demand seriousness and respect for the will of the people.”
Delgado also said that Morena will seek to hold past presidents to account even if voter turnout is below 40% and a majority doesn’t vote in favor of investigating Carlos Salinas, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto for alleged wrongdoings.
“Regardless of the result of the referendum, in Morena we’re going to seek a way for a truth commission to be created and for the ex-presidents to pay for the crimes they committed. We’re not going to rest until justice is served,” he said.
However, ex-presidents and other former officials don’t have immunity from prosecution so there is no reason why they can’t be prosecuted – without the need for a referendum – if there is evidence they committed a crime.
Delgado said the vote is not just about the past but also the future.
“If we never again want to have homicidal and criminal presidents we have to go out and participate. We have to break through the inaction of the electoral authority that is discouraging people’s participation – due to a lack of money, they say, but they haven’t wanted to reduce their exorbitant salaries,” he said.
INE president Lorenzo Córdova defended the electoral body’s management of the referendum and declared that it will be a success no matter how many people turn out to vote.
“Hopefully it will be [all of] the 93.5 million [enrolled voters] who participate but whatever the percentage of participation is, this [referendum] is already a success. This is the first serious referendum at a federal level and the number [of participants] will be unprecedented with respect to those there have been in the past. It will be historic,” he said Thursday.
Córdova said that the question on the referendum will be exactly as the Supreme Court stipulated and rejected Morena’s claim that voters are being asked whether former presidents should face trial.
He indicated that he was unconcerned about the criticism the INE will likely face if turnout is below the 40% threshold, asserting that the institute will only be strengthened by the referendum process.
The vote, which will cost approximately 520 million pesos (US $26.2 million), will take place between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. this Sunday, with the INE to set up almost 57,000 voting “tables.”
The question, described by the newspaper The Economist as Cantinflan, or convoluted, is as follows:
“Are you in agreement or not that appropriate actions in accordance with the constitutional and legal framework be carried out in order to undertake actions of clarification of political decisions taken in the past by political actors, aimed at guaranteeing justice and the rights of the possible victims?”
With reports from Milenio