Despite low public confidence in politicians, government institutions and electoral processes, political parties are going to receive a massive windfall of public money in 2018.
Parties will get almost 6.8 billion pesos (just over US $383 million) to cover ordinary party costs and campaign expenses for next July’s presidential election, the highest amount ever approved by the National Electoral Institute (INE).
Federal lawmakers will have to approve the amount before it is turned over, but that is expected to happen once discussion on the 2018 budget begins in Congress.
Thirty per cent of the money will be distributed equally between all the parties while the remainder will be allocated according to the percentage of votes won at the last legislative election.
The incumbent Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will be the biggest beneficiary with almost 1.7 billion pesos allocated to it followed by the National Action Party (PAN) with almost 1.3 billion pesos and the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) with 773 million.
Morena — currently ahead in polls — is next on the list at 649 million pesos followed by the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) and other minor parties and independent candidates.
A further 6 billion pesos will also be distributed to parties for local election campaigns that will also take place in 2018.
The INE argued that the funding was necessary to avoid organized crime and others trying to buy influence and also to stop money being illegally withdrawn from social programs or other budget areas.
Board member Ciro Murayama said that without it the door would be opened to “opaque money, of . . . unknown origin financing the campaigns.”
He emphasized that the INE has already detected the use of illegal money in election campaigns and that there is “no disinterested million-peso donation.”
INE president Lorenzo Córdova said that while he was in favor of a national discussion on the topic of money and politics, he too explained that public funding was necessary for political parties to avoid the influence of private interests.
However, a former INE president has strongly criticized the allocation of excessive amounts of money in Mexico’s electoral processes.
On a recent university visit, Luis Carlos Ugalde said, “Overspending on campaigns is the main problem of Mexican democracy and current legislation is not capable of resolving it.”
He added that “surveys [show] 60% of people have no confidence [in government institutions] and think that elections are fraudulent.”
The INE is currently facing its worst moment of credibility, he said, a situation that is reflective of a general perception towards all government agencies.