Friday, June 21, 2024

US editorial warns electoral reform would put Mexico’s democracy ‘at risk’

The Washington Post newspaper has asserted that President López Obrador’s proposed electoral reform threatens the independence of Mexico’s electoral system and advised the U.S. government and public to not “remain indifferent” to his plans.

In an editorial published Monday under the headline “Mexico should stop its president’s latest antidemocratic maneuver,” the Post argued that the United States “is not the only North American democracy at risk from a president’s belief that he is a victim of election-rigging.”

It noted that AMLO, as the president is best known, “cried fraud” after he narrowly lost the 2006 presidential election to Felipe Calderón, “refused to concede even after tribunals unanimously rejected his claims” and organized disruptive protests in Mexico City.

“Though Mr. López Obrador ultimately relented and presidents from other parties governed through 2018, he remained obsessed with 2006,” the Post said.

The Post accused AMLO of being obsessed with a lost presidential bid in 2006 and said he’s bent on reforming the electoral system he still believes cheated him of his win. (Presidencia)

“Now that he is president — having won an undisputed election in 2018 — Mr. López Obrador is bent on remaking the electoral system he still blames for cheating him more than 16 years ago.”

To that alleged end, AMLO has submitted a constitutional electoral reform bill to Congress.

The bill proposes a range of measures, including replacing the National Electoral Institute (INE) and state-based electoral authorities with one centralized body, allowing citizens to directly vote for electoral officials, cutting the funding of political parties and electoral authorities and reducing the number of lawmakers in both houses of Congress.

The ruling Morena party has been waging a full-scale publicity campaign to inspire support for the reform, like this rally in the center of Cuernavaca, Morelos on Nov. 17. (Cuartoscuro)

The president’s proposals, the Post said, “threaten the [electoral] system’s independence and with it Mexico’s hard-won transition from authoritarianism to multiparty democracy.”

Although the INE ratified López Obrador’s 2018 election victory, the president portrays the institute as “biased, elitist and wasteful of taxpayer money,” the newspaper said.

“The president wants a new system whereby voters choose a seven-member [electoral] panel from 60 candidates, of whom the president, Congress and the Supreme Court would each pick about 20; they would serve for six years, the length of a presidential term in Mexico. The susceptibility to politicization of such a panel is obvious,” the Post said.

It added that “public opinion polls show that substantial majorities of Mexicans approve of the INE’s work,” although one commissioned by the INE found strong support for key proposals in the electoral reform bill.

Protests in Mexico against proposed electoral reform
Members of various organizations held a vigil in front of the Chamber of Deputies in Mexico City the night before it was set to discuss electoral reform. (Cuartoscuro)

The newspaper also noted that the European Commission for Democracy through Law — known as the Venice Commission — concluded that AMLO’s plan “carries an inherent risk” of undermining the public’s trust in the existing electoral system.

“An increasing number of Mexicans rightly suspect that Mr. López Obrador is trying to perpetuate his party’s dominance even after his term ends in 2024, mimicking the authoritarian system that prevailed under the Institutional Revolutionary Party during the 20th century,” the Post said.

The editorial acknowledged that protests were held across the country earlier this month to protest the proposed reform, and that a contramarcha, or counter-march, led by López Obrador was held in Mexico City last Sunday.

AMLO's Zocalo march in favor of 4th Transformation 2022
The Post said that AMLO’s rally, which he said was to celebrate the success of the government’s reforms, was “a show of force” to Congress as it considers the issue. (Presidencia)

AMLO said his march wasn’t “about the electoral reform,” but the Post charged that it was “a show of force as the country’s Congress considers the issue.”

“Though the president probably lacks the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution, he has said that he will try to achieve his objectives through legislation, which requires only a simple majority,” the editorial said.

It added that the Biden administration, the U.S. Congress and U.S. citizens shouldn’t “remain indifferent to these developments.”

The United States has many interests — trade, energy, migration, drug smuggling — in Mexico, but none is more important than ensuring democracy flourishes,” the Post said, before asserting that the upcoming North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City “provides President Biden an opportunity to deliver that message in person, and unequivocally.”

Mexico News Daily 

Have something to say? Paid Subscribers get all access to make & read comments.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announces the new sanctions against La Nueva Familia Michoacana, speaking at a podium

US announces new sanctions targeting members of La Nueva Familia Michoacana

U.S. officials said the sanctions target leaders, lieutenants and an assassin working for the criminal organization La Nueva Familia Michoacana.
A fisherman points out the bubbling "water eye" in the ocean off Cozumel Island, with a cruise ship and another fishing boat in the background.

Churning “water eye” appears off coast of Cozumel Island in Quintana Roo

The phenomenon is a result of the Yucatán Peninsula's unusual geology.
A person pours water on his face under blazing sun

Heat-related death toll climbs to 155, more than doubling in 3 weeks

Tabasco and Veracruz account for nearly half of all heat-related fatalities in the country so far this year.