EconomyFinancial#FreeZone | Electoral reform, circus, maroma and theater?

#FreeZone | Electoral reform, circus, maroma and theater?

Wow, that is expensive. Mexican democracy is among the most wasteful in the world. Only for the intermediate elections of 2021, the INE approved more than 26,819 million pesos (mdp) of budget, an increase of more than 30% of that authorized for the intermediate elections of 2015 (the budget that year was 18,572 mdp) and 10.5% more than the authorized budget for the 2018 presidential election.

Every year the Mexican Congress usually surprises citizens with the abysmal amounts of money that are approved with public resources, to seek to strengthen elections that tend to be poorly attended by voters.

The current voter registry exceeds 93 million. However, low turnout costs the country too much money. Each vote made in 2021 was almost 300 pesos.

Since coming to power, President López Obrador has been a staunch critic of the National Electoral Institute. He has practically accused him of being to blame for our elections being so costly, denouncing poor budget management and an excessive burden of prerogatives on political parties.

The tension between the federal government and the INE has been growing strongly, which has caused the institute to seek to explain to citizens in detail what each peso is spent on. He argues that he has saved money by spending less on central offices and that a substantial portion of that spending has gone to district offices. And the items that have grown are those of auditing, updating the electoral register, linking with local public electoral bodies (OPLEs) and organizing local electoral processes.

This is because the electoral reforms that have taken place after each federal election have added new tasks to the INE; in particular, assume the organization of local elections. But even with these increases, electoral spending is concentrated on updating the electoral register and issuing voter credentials, which represents more than 30% of its annual budget.

Let’s get to know the new national debate, since it will be focused on the electoral reform that AMLO has sent to the Chamber of Deputies. The president seeks to implement several points and modify the current electoral structure, including:
– Eliminate ordinary public financing for political parties.
– Disappear the National Electoral Institute (INE) and create, in its place, the National Institute for Elections and Consultations (INEC), as the only national body in charge of organizing elections.
– Election, by popular vote, of electoral councilors and magistrates.
– Drastically reduce public funding for political parties and eliminate the 200 federal deputies and 32 multi-member senators or proportional representation.

López Obrador’s proposal supposes that it will strongly divide the debate in the Chamber of Deputies, since practically every political party – allied to the president and the opposition – has totally contrary initiatives, ranging from giving more budget to the INE and implementing electronic voting, to implement the second electoral round, among many others.

The scenario that AMLO proposes sounds as radical as it is complicated for it to be voted on by the majority. It would be a radical change in the country’s electoral organization model, which since 1977 has been sought to perfect.

The model of “doubling” the PRI in the Congress of the Union was a success for the so-called 4T, so it will eagerly seek to ally it again to achieve a reform that is strongly electoral. The citizen has previously voted for candidates who promised changes in the electoral function, specifically on the issue of money and the distribution of prerogatives, a promise that López Obrador himself and his candidates have still not fulfilled since 2018.

The historical moment has a new opportunity for the so-called 4T to continue tearing apart the opposition, which is still in the middle of the river and in a division that seems not to heal.

This new controversy presupposes a new political circus. It should only be the experts in electoral matters who expose whether the reform is convenient to pay for a young and disrupted democracy that, although costly, must follow the best path towards maturity that a country as large as ours requires.


Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.

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