The passage of a controversial electoral reform bill in Mexico has been met with many protests across the country. The bill cuts the budget of both the National Electoral Institute (INE) and its staff, resulting in some of its local offices to be closed. Resulting spending cuts would defund and cut both salaries and spending for these local offices, as well as training programs for citizens who oversee and operate polling stations. It was passed by the Senate, 72 votes in favor and 50 votes against, and was also passed by the Chamber of Deputies. Thus, it will come into effect once President Andrés Manuel López Obrador signs it.
President Obrador has been known to oppose the INE, having claimed that it is partisan since 2006, when he first ran for President and lost to his opponents. He also contested the legitimacy of the organization in 2012, when he lost the Presidential Election again. He consistently accuses the INE of voter fraud, stating that it has robbed him of being elected. However, with his election in July 2018, Obrador can now cut down the size of the organization on the grounds that it that will save millions for taxpayers and reduce the influence of economic politics. The measure that was recently passed is a watered-down version of what Obrador initially proposed, as the original failed to pass through Congress. Despite the watering down, politicians of the opposition still characterize this bill as an attack on Mexico’s democratic institutions.
Furthermore, opposition politicians are going to the Supreme Court with their concern that this bill will erode Mexican democracy. The INE was essential in the shift from a federal one-party rule to a multi-party system, in 2000. These concerns were emphasized, as the rest of the region watched the erosion of electoral confidence in Mexico’s neighbor, the United States, as well as Brazil, earlier this year. Mexico will hold elections in June, and General Elections next year, including a vote for President.