López Obrador sees the institute as beholden to the elite, but critics say his reforms would threaten its independence and make it more political. The initiative includes eliminating state-level electoral offices, reducing public funding for political parties, and allowing the public to elect members of the electoral authority rather than the lower house of Congress.
It would also reduce the number of lawmakers in the lower house of Congress from 500 to 300 and senators from 128 to 96 by eliminating legislators at large. These are not directly elected by voters, but appear on party lists and obtain seats according to their party’s share of votes.
The proposal is expected to be discussed in the Mexican Congress in the coming weeks, where the president’s Morena party and its allies hold an advantage.
“I’m already sick of Andrés Manuel, with so many lies, so many crimes,” said Alejandra Galán, a 45-year-old manager, raising a Mexican flag in the middle of the crowd. “He wants to take us (the electoral institute) to finally be like Venezuela, Cuba, but we’re not going to let him.”
Jorge González said such comparisons with authoritarian regimes may seem exaggerated at this point, but “I think there is only one step to take. We must have a clear separation of powers, independent institutions and especially the National Electoral Institute.
The 49-year-old, who works in the financial sector, noted the seven decades of uninterrupted rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which was finally ousted in 2000. “The fear is not having an independent civic institution, where we can really trust the elections and (instead) return to an institute where it is run by a single party.
Fernando Belaunzarán, one of the promoters of the protest, said 200,000 people took part in the march. Authorities have not confirmed this figure.
López Obrador has spent decades battling electoral authorities. He considers himself a victim of electoral fraud on several occasions, even if it was the National Electoral Institute that confirmed his landslide presidential victory in 2018.
Organizers said the march was not against López Obrador, but to draw attention to the proposal and urge lawmakers to vote against it.
López Obrador’s party does not have enough votes to push through constitutional reform without the support of the opposition.
Last week, López Obrador devoted a good part of his daily morning press conferences to firing the promoters of the demonstration, calling them “cretins” and “corrupt”, with the aim of deceiving the people. He defended the proposal as seeking to cut the electoral authority’s budget and avoid “voter fraud”.
While agreeing that some cost savings might be desirable, some analysts worry that eliminating state election offices would concentrate power too much at the federal level and sacrifice efficiency.
Selecting electoral tribunal members and running the institute by popular vote would give parties more power to choose candidates. The proposal would also reduce the number of institute board members from 11 to seven.
Patricio Morelos of the Technological University of Monterrey pointed out that with López Obrador enjoying great popularity and his party controlling the majority of Mexico’s 32 state governments, they would have an advantage if the electoral authority was remade and would probably exercise control.
Protester Giovanni Rodrigo, a 44-year-old employee, said López Obrador does not want to let go of power, if not himself in the presidency, he wants to decide who.
“I believe without a doubt that he is the best politician that exists today in modern history and that is why he owns a party” that controls the majority of Mexican states, he said. . ” It was not enough. He wants more and more.