The umpteenth battle between the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador against the highest electoral body has concluded with a victory, at least temporary, for the Executive. The National Electoral Institute (INE) had agreed in its Council to postpone the organization of the consultation to revoke the president’s mandate, which is a historic measure to ask the population whether or not they want the president to end his office in 2024 or leave it immediately, and one of the campaign promises of Morena’s leader. The justification: the Chamber of Deputies, led by the ruling party, had not provided them with a sufficient budget for the enormous array of polling stations that it implies. But the Supreme Court has ordered this Wednesday night, in an express and unpublished decision, that the measure continue its course. At least until January, after returning from vacation, is debated by the 11 magistrates of the body.
The INE decided on December 17 to postpone the call for the consultation scheduled for April 10, alleging lack of resources after the cut of more than 2,300 million pesos by Congress to the last budget of the body. The referendum, scheduled for April 10, is the president’s great asset facing the final stretch of the mandate and the blockade has raised tension against the INE, one of López Obrador’s favorite targets in his crusade against the institutions that considered part of a kind of old regime.
During these days of blockade, the president opened the door on Tuesday for the consultation for the revocation of the mandate to be organized informally by the citizens. A model that already has precedents. During the first stages of his government, he promoted a handful of controversial popular consultations held outside the electoral body on issues as diverse as the construction of two trains, a refinery, the viability of 10 social programs or the reversal of a new airport. “Democracy is made by the people, not by the administrative apparatus. It is up to the INE to do so by constitutional mandate, but if they refused, citizens could make the consultation, “he said during the morning daily conference.
“With the granting of the suspension [desbloqueo de la decisión del INE] the continuity of a democratic and civic exercise is favored. In addition, the second paragraph of article 29 of the country’s Political Constitution establishes that political rights cannot be restricted or suspended in a general way, so the execution of the INE Agreement puts at risk the timely exercise of the right of citizens to decide whether or not to revoke the mandate ”, have indicated two of the Supreme Court ministers, Yasmín Esquivel and Margarita Ríos-Farjat, both proposed by the president for the post.
The judges insisted that the INE has 1,503 million pesos to organize the consultation, so there is “an indicator of financial viability,” and that with these resources it must move forward with all stages of the process. For his part, the head of the INE, Lorenzo Córdova, estimated that more than 3,830 million pesos are required for the organization of the referendum. The INE can challenge the decision, but the Court is on vacation, it returns on January 3 and the claims of the electoral body will hardly be resolved before February.
From the INE the initial estimated amount was justified because the revocation requires an investment that ranges from the training of 12 million people to invite them to the voting tables, to the recruitment of 800,000 more to work voluntarily as poll workers, to printing of the electoral material. “All this costs 3,830 million pesos. Less than for a federal election that is more than 8,000 million ”, explained the counselor of the INE, Ciro Murayama, to this newspaper.
The historical measure of the revocation of the mandate has continued its course despite the temporary blockade of the INE. A measure that required an amendment to the Constitution and a law to regulate it. Well, if, as planned, on April 10, 2022, the population decides that López Obrador should not continue in office, for the first time a president of Mexico will leave the post and an interim president would be appointed. His supporters were collecting the 2.8 million signatures needed for the measure request this week. And with the decision of the Court, the officials of the Institute are obliged for the moment to continue with their part, which will begin once sufficient support is obtained.
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