The Governance and Legislative Studies Commissions of the Mexican Senate approved on Monday the opinions that contain the electoral reform initiatives of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, that modify five secondary laws and create a new rule on the mattersubtracting personnel and faculties from the National Electoral Institute (INE).
The proposal, which was already approved in the Chamber of Deputies last week, was endorsed in the senatorial commissions with the unanimous and majority vote of the Morena legislators, since in the Interior Commission the senators from the opposition bloc decided to withdraw, while Only the independent senator Germán Martínez, and the PAN members Indira Rosales and Damián Zepeda participated in the Legislative Studies Commission.
The opinions approved, which are expected to be discussed and voted on in the Senate Plenary this Tuesday, although for this two consecutive sessions must be held, they had some modifications, although deep down the intention to restructure the internal organs and directorates of the INE prevails, in addition to compacting the functions of the Local Electoral Public Organizations (OPLES), which will bring the dismissal of hundreds of workers.
Due to the introduction of some changes, after the reform is approved in the Senate plenary, the opinion has to be sent back to the Chamber of Deputies for that sovereignty to ratify what was done by their peers, a situation that has already generated some friction between the Morena legislators themselves.
What did change
Among the variations of the opinion, it is highlighted that, in order to preserve their registration, political parties must obtain 3% of the vote in general elections, as is currently the case. The deputies had approved that these institutes could continue to exist, even if they did not obtain that proportion of votes, as long as they did obtain 3% of the votes in 17 entities of the country.
Also the possibility of the parties transferring votes among themselves was annulled, in case any of them were at risk of losing the record.
The senators also ruled out that national political parties could obtain public financing at the local level in the federal entities, even though they have lost their registration at the national level.
Another change was related to the obligation imposed on the INE to present electoral reform proposals to Congress, since this power is not contemplated in article 71 of the Constitution, since the electoral authority is not within the subjects They have the right to initiate laws.
Regarding the coalitions, regardless of the type of election, each of the political parties will appear with its own logo on the ballot, and not with joint emblems as the deputies intended.
dissent between morenistas
Ricardo Monreal, coordinator of the official party in the Senate, prepared a document in which he stated that This reform contains 21 blocks of unconstitutionality, Of which, the Morena senators in commissions only accepted six and partially, making some changes to the draft.
The transgressions to the magna carta, according to Monreal, although they were pointed out thematically, are present in at least 70 articles of the five laws that make up the so-called Plan B election of the president
Likewise, some senators -also from Morena- stated that they did not agree with the few modifications made to the minutes, and announced their respective reservations that will be discussed, and where appropriate, approved in the plenary session of the Senate.
In turn, dissatisfied with the variations of the reform introduced by the senators, the deputy from Morena Hamlet Garcia Almaguer announced to the press that, when the opinion returns to the lower house, his bench will analyze all the work of the Senate, since if it “disrupts the spirit” of the proposal sent by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he would vote against ratifying the co-legislator changes.
García Almaguer specified that in the lower house “the limit” to vote in favor of the alterations coming from the Senate are: Maintain austerity as the axis of the reform, to make the elections in Mexico not so onerous, and eliminate, he said, to the “golden bureaucracy” of the INE; in addition to preserving affirmative actions for the benefit of women, people with disabilities, the LGBTT+ population, and representatives of indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples.
In accordance with article 72 of the Constitution, if the Chamber of Deputies votes against the changes of the Senators, the opinion with that rejection must be sent back to the Senate, where what has been done by the lower house must necessarily be accepted, otherwise Otherwise, if the senators insist on the modifications, the project would not be approved, and this could not be presented until the next session of Congress that begins in February 2023.
Supreme Court on the horizon
The opposition in the Senate reiterated that it will vote against the Plan B of the president, arguing that this harms the autonomy of the National Electoral Institute, and violates several precepts and articles of the Constitution, for which reason they will immediately challenge the reform before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.
In fact, the coordinator of Morena in the Upper House, Ricardo Monreal, acknowledged that there is “a high risk” that the Court will declare the unconstitutionality of this legislative package, not only because of its substance, but also because of the way in which the approval process has been carried out in the Chamber of Deputies, where the reform of the secondary laws on electoral matters was hastily endorsed, ignoring the steps that must be legally observed for any initiative.
Along the same lines, 21 former INE councilors presented a letter to the Senate in which they expressed their concern over these changes promoted by the president, which they will favor that there are no “guarantees for the holding of free and trustworthy elections.”
The former officials who signed the letter, including María Marván, José Woldenberg, Luis Carlos Ugalde, Benito Nacif, Mauricio Merino, and Pamela San Martín, warn of “many more risks and setbacks than benefits,” and consider that the redesign that “the electoral authorities is far-reaching”, so the reform would merit “a careful reflection on its implications”.
surya palaces Journalist and lawyer, specialist in legal analysis and human rights. She has been a reporter, radio host and editor.