Mexico Protests as Election Reform Threatens to Undermine Its Democracy
In more than 100 cities and towns across Mexico hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in opposition to new election regulations passed in late February which are seen as a potential blow to democratic principles.
The reform measures, if enacted, would lead to drastic funding cuts to the National Electoral Institute of Mexico, or INE, in what protesters claim would be detrimental to democracy.
The reform was introduced by President Andres Manuel López Obrador who supports the decision by claiming the funding cuts are necessary for the economy; as the INE is one of the most expensive bodies of its kind in the entire world.
Protesters showed up throughout the country in February dressed in pink and white, the official colors of the INE, and carried signs stating “hands off of the INE” in a strong message of solidarity with the independent body that controls and oversees all of the elections in Mexico.
Many fear that the planned spending cuts are a direct road to the past in which the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI held undisrupted power from 1929 to 2000. The Electoral Institute was originally introduced in 1990 as a power to check the presidency and ultimately played a huge role in ending one-party rule in Mexico.
The measures, which passed in Mexico’s Senate aim to cut INE staff by almost 85% and reduce sanctions on candidates that do not disclose campaign spending.
The new election reform would also reduce the number of polling stations throughout the country, as well as making it harder for voters to register or receive national identification cards.
Many at recent protests have expressed hope that Mexico’s Supreme Court will overturn some of the changes or all of the reform, as it faces legal challenges, as courts have done with other presidential initiatives.
If the reforms are enacted though, these could have an immediate impact on the upcoming 2024 presidential elections in which López Obrador, who has already served his six year term limit, is set to appoint a successor.
The U.S. is keeping a particularly close watch on the development of Mexico’s democracy as the two countries are intrinsically intertwined.
As protesters have been raising their voices across Mexico similar trends can be seen mirrored in countries like Brazil, Peru and Israel where governments are taking drastic measures that many see as threats to democracy. Now, with eyes also on Mexico is this anti-democratic trend a warning sign that the world should be paying more attention too?