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Mexico Senate Passes Electoral System Overhaul Ahead of Vote – Bloomberg

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico's president, during the North American Leaders' Summit in Mexico City, Mexico, on Tuesday. Jan. 10, 2023.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s president, during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico City, Mexico, on Tuesday. Jan. 10, 2023. (Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg)

Jose Orozco and Alex Vasquez, Bloomberg News

EnergiesNet.com 02 23 2023

Mexico’s Senate passed a bill that completes the overhaul of the country’s election regulator, a long-sought objective of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that the opposition denounces as an attempt to tamper with next year’s elections.

The Senate late Wednesday approved the electoral bill known as “Plan B” in general and particular terms with 72 votes in favor and 50 against, according to the legislative chamber’s Twitter. The bill modifies the laws on institutions and electoral procedures, political parties and electoral challenges, respectively. 

AMLO, as the president is known, has faced backlash from his push to overhaul Mexico’s electoral regulator, known as the INE, with a general election scheduled for July 2024 and a vote to pick governors in two key states in just three months. In November, thousands of protesters marched in Mexico City against the president’s initiative, saying it would weaken elections and calling it a power grab. 

The reform seeks to reduce funding for the INE and cut its workforce. The regulator has become too partisan and the cost of elections too high, AMLO has said, arguing in favor of reform. It’s considered the government’s backup plan after an attempt to change the constitution with a similar bill last year was blocked by the opposition. The original initiative was broader and sought to change the way the electoral authorities are elected.

During Wednesday’s debate, opposition lawmakers rejected the bill arguing it eliminates several essential powers of the electoral body, greatly reducing the presence of its experts and workers in Mexico’s states and even diminishing its ability to sanction those who fail to comply with electoral regulations.

“A soon as it is published, we are going to challenge this harmful electoral reform, because it is unconstitutional and hurts democracy,” Damian Zepeda, a senator for the center-right PAN party, said. 

The opposition will seek the Supreme Court to annul the legislation, arguing that it bypasses the constitution by not submitting it to the two-thirds vote needed in these cases. They’ve also called on Mexicans to march against the reform and in defense of the INE during protests scheduled for Feb. 26.

Mexico has a long history of voter fraud, including the presidential election of 1988, when an alleged fault in the electoral system was used as excuse for the official PRI party to retain power. Subsequent reforms and the creation of the INE has helped the country to vastly improve its electoral standards.

bloomberg.com 02 22 2023

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