Nov 15, 2022 - World

Mexico's López Obrador undeterred by protests against elections reform

Protesters march through Mexico City against proposed reforms to the nation's electoral system

Protesters marching in Mexico City on Sunday hold signs that say, "Don't touch the INE." Photo: Claudio Cruz/AFP via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is moving forward with plans to reform the country's elections system despite massive protests this weekend.

Driving the news: Tens of thousands of people marched in more than a dozen Mexican cities Sunday against López Obrador's proposal to overhaul the National Electoral Institute (INE), with many saying it would threaten the institute's independence and give his party too much power over it.

  • López Obrador says the reforms are necessary to "strengthen democracy" as he claims the INE and the electoral court are biased and that their budgets are unwieldy.
  • Yesterday, he dismissed the protesters as "conservatives" and accused them of marching "in favor of corruption and classism."
  • Critics argue his plan would concentrate more power under his Morena party. Lorenzo Córdova, head of the INE, said in an interview with El País that the president's proposed reform is half-baked.

Catch up quick: Currently, 11 INE commissioners are chosen for nine-year terms through an independent committee composed of representatives from Congress and autonomous government agencies.

  • López Obrador wants to eliminate all of the INE's state-level electoral offices to have just one national organization for all elections. He also wants to allow the public, instead of the special committee, to choose the electoral commissioners from a list vetted by the president.
  • The ruling party would also maintain voter rolls, which some experts say could lead to meddling.

State of play: The plan has divided Mexicans, with polls — including some conducted by the INE — showing about half of those surveyed favoring the replacement of the electoral body.

  • Still, the majority of Mexicans approve of the INE.

Between the lines: López Obrador has been a longtime critic of the INE, which has run Mexico's elections for nearly three decades.

  • He's partly blamed the INE for his losses in the 2006 and 2012 presidential elections.

The big picture: Since taking power in 2018, López Obrador has pushed for controversial changes to the country's institutions, including successfully slashing the budget of the National Human Rights Commission.

  • Morena recently introduced a proposal to limit the scope of the Supreme Court's decisions.

What's next: Congress, which is controlled by the president's Morena party, is debating the INE reforms and is expected to vote in December.

Subscribe to Axios Latino to get vital news about Latinos and Latin America, delivered to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Go deeper