According to the Financial Times, Mexico’s populist president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has turned his guns on foreign investors, the media, and the business elite to rally his base and drive an anti-establishment message. But his latest target seems an unlikely one: the body that certified his landslide election victories.
López Obrador has proposed to slash the National Electoral Institute’s (INE) budget and replace its 11-member council chosen by political consensus with seven directly elected delegates. He also wants to save money by cutting the size of Mexico’s senate by a quarter, its lower house by over a third, and ending public financing of election campaigns.
The opposition and independent observers have cried foul, saying the changes would destroy the INE’s independence and undermine confidence in Mexico’s young democracy, which emerged from 70 years of one-party rule only in 2000. “It’s a reform which is not necessary because what we have today works well,” INE president Lorenzo Córdova told the Financial Times in an interview. “As the English-speaking world says: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.” Mexico will hold the biggest elections in its history in 2024, choosing a new president and congress, eight state governors, the mayor of Mexico City and 31 state legislatures. López Obrador wants to push the constitutional changes needed to reconfigure the INE through congress this year, though he faces stiff opposition. “If the INE really is damaged, it would be a disaster,” said Enrique Krauze, a Mexican historian and commentator. “The future of the INE is the biggest worry in Mexico right now.”
López Obrador lacks the necessary two-thirds majority in congress but opponents worry that even if he does not succeed in tailoring the INE to his liking, he will have tarnished the institute’s reputation enough with his attacks to mount a credible challenge to the 2024 election result if his candidates lose. Córdova, an earnest academic who has run the electoral body since 2014, is keen to avoid stoking conflict. But he points out that during his tenure at the INE, López Obrador won the presidency by a landslide while his Morena political movement won half of Mexico’s state governorships, with more victories predicted in state elections this month.
Source: Financial Times