On Sunday, tens of thousands of people gathered in Mexico City’s large main square to demonstrate against changes to the electoral law proposed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, which they claim imperil democracy and could usher in a return to the past.
Although the plaza can often accommodate up to 100,000 people, a large number of demonstrators who couldn’t fit there overflowed onto adjacent streets.
The National Electoral Institute’s colors, white and pink, were the predominant colors worn by the protesters, who chanted “Don’t Touch My Vote” and other similar phrases. The marchers resembled a comparable but larger march on November 13, and they appeared to be a little wealthier than the ordinary protestors.
The U.S. government paid attention to the modifications to the electoral laws.
The independence of the electoral and judicial systems are being put to the test in Mexico today, according to Brian A. Nichols, the assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs of the United States.
In his article, Nichols stated that “the United States supports independent, well-resourced election institutions that improve democratic processes and the rule of law.”
The initiatives of López Obrador were approved last week. Once put into effect, they would reduce pay, financing for local election offices, and training for volunteers who run and supervise polling places. Additionally, they would lessen the penalties for politicians who do not disclose their campaign expenses.
The reforms are not a threat to democracy, according to the president of Mexico, who also dismisses criticism as elitist since the institute spends too much money. According to him, the needy should benefit from the money.
Veterinarian protester Enrique Bastien, 64, claimed that López Obrador “wants to return to the past” with the reforms, when “the government controlled elections.”
Bastien recalled the 1970s and 1980s when Mexico was dominated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (or PRI) and said, “It was a life without independence.
Small businessman Fernando Gutierrez, 55, claimed that López Obrador wants to take Mexico toward a socialist system of government. That is clear from the help going to Cuba, according to Gutierrez.
López Obrador has imported coronavirus vaccinations, medical workers and stone railway ballast from Cuba, but has showed little taste for socialist initiatives at home.
Many other protesters were merely afraid of the kinds of vote tampering, excessive campaign expenditure, and electoral pressure techniques that were frequent in Mexico prior to the establishment of the independent electoral agency in the 1990s.
Even though he anticipates legal challenges, López Obrador stated on Thursday that he will sign the amendments into law. Several protesters on Sunday voiced the hope that some of the reforms will be overturned by Mexico’s Supreme Court, as courts have previously done with other presidential initiatives.
The measures “aim to reduce thousands of individuals who labor every day to guarantee trustworthy elections, something that will obviously represent a risk for future elections,” according to Lorenzo Cordova, the director of the National Electoral Institute.
López Obrador has presented himself as unconcerned about legal challenges, declaring on Thursday that he thought the modifications would stand because none were “beyond the law.”
But in the past, he has regularly criticized Mexico’s judicial system and implied that judges are complicit in a right-wing plot to overthrow his government.
Some people worry that the president is attempting to resurrect the tactics of the old PRI, which bent the rules to maintain Mexico’s presidency for 70 years until its defeat in the 2000 elections. This worry is fueled by the president’s strident pushback against the judiciary as well as regulatory and oversight agencies.
Elections in Mexico are expensive by worldwide standards in part because the government is required by law to provide nearly all legal campaign finance. The electoral institution also controls voting in the far-flung and frequently hazardous regions of the nation as well as issuing secure voter identity cards, which are the most widely used form of identification in Mexico.
With approval scores of almost 60% in Mexico, López Obrador is still quite well-liked there. Although he cannot run for reelection, his Morena party is expected to do well in the upcoming national elections because of the state of the opposition.
His criticism of well-paid government employees contributes to his popularity, and he has become enraged by the fact that some top election officials are paid more than the president.