Orchestrating Democracy

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Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Mexico this week to protest against President Andres Manuel López Obrador’s controversial proposal to overhaul the country’s electoral commission, which many fear will hand too much power to the government, Reuters reported.

The proposed reform would allow citizens to pick electoral authorities from a list chosen by the president, congress and supreme court. Judges on Mexico’s electoral court, which certifies elections, would be elected through a popular vote as well.

The plan would also reduce the financing of political parties and limit advertising time, according to the Wall Street Journal.

López Obrador had initially proposed the plan in April after long criticizing the National Electoral Institute (INE), including accusing it of being responsible for his defeats during his 2006 and 2012 presidential bids.

His government has also cut the budgets of the INE and other autonomous agencies.

Following the mass demonstrations, he criticized protesters as people who oppose his policies in favor of the underprivileged.

Critics say the proposed bill would strip the INE of its autonomy ahead of the 2024 general elections, which would favor the government and the president’s ruling Morena party. Observers noted that the potential changes are contentious in a country that has a history of electoral fraud and authoritarian regimes.

Others pointed out that the present electoral institutions organized and validated the 2018 elections which handed López Obrador his third presidential run. Since 2018, Morena’s party has also won 22 state governorships.

The governing party, however, will need a two-thirds majority in Congress to make changes to the constitution. Currently, the party is short of that majority.

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