By Andres Oppenheimer
While much of the world is focused on Brazil’s Oct. 30 presidential elections, we should also pay attention to an alarming political development that could mark the end of democracy in Mexico.
The Mexican government is planning to dismantle the National Electoral Institute (INE), the country’s highly respected independent electoral body.
The INE has played a key role in Mexico’s transition to democracy since the late ’90s when it became an autonomous government institution. It has since guaranteed free and fair elections in a country that, before 2000, had been ruled by a single party for the previous seven decades.
But now, Mexico’s populist President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wants to dismantle the INE and replace it with a much smaller and weaker electoral body.
On Oct. 26, López Obrador’s Morena party in Congress approved a 21-member commission to set in motion major political reform. In addition to downsizing the INE, it would cut public funds and media time for political parties and eliminate 200 of the 500 seats in the lower house of Congress.
The Mexican Congress is scheduled to debate these changes in late November when few in the country will be paying attention: It’s when Mexico’s national soccer team is scheduled to play against Poland, Argentina, and Saudi Arabia in the World Cup in Qatar.
López Obrador, much like Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and former U.S. President Donald Trump, has long criticized his country’s electoral system. He began lashing out against electoral authorities since he lost a 2006 presidential election and blamed it on fraud.
But the INE, which has undergone several reforms since its creation, has gained respect at home and abroad.
Click here to read the complete original article by Andres Oppenheimer in the Miami Herald