Mexico prepares for a mid-term election on June 6 in which the president Andrés Manuel López Obrador the possibility is at stake of maintaining a comfortable parliamentary majority with which to accelerate what he calls the “fourth transformation”, a regeneration of the country, according to his followers, or a leap towards authoritarianism, according to his detractors.
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Here are some keys to decipher what may come.
WHAT IS THE FOURTH TRANSFORMATION?
Is the name that Lopez Obrador He gave the changes he wanted to implement to install another way of doing politics without corruption, privilege, or impunity, leaving neoliberalism behind and putting the poor first. In his opinion, as important as the other three great transformations of Mexico: independence from Spain, the liberal reforms of the 19th century and the revolution of the early 20th century.
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An overwhelming majority believed him and voted for him in 2018. Now the country is almost evenly divided between ardent fans and staunch detractors. The intermediate postures seem to have disappeared.
WHY IS THE CONGRESS IMPORTANT FOR THE FOURTH TRANSFORMATION?
The president needs Parliament to carry out his initiatives and constitutional reforms. Thanks to his charismatic leadership, his party, Morena – an amalgam of politicians from different backgrounds – managed to add a majority in both chambers that no federal executive had had since 1997.
For the first time in more than 20 years, no agreements with the opposition were necessary. The ruling party chose to move forward quickly with the presidential agenda and promoted regulations that, before being approved, already augured problems, described Julio Téllez, a researcher for the Parliamentary Bureau group.
The result: many laws are blocked or appealed in court, but most of the Fourth Transformation (Q4) proposals are already a reality, at least on paper.
WHO ARE THE MAIN ALLIES AND DETRATORS OF Q4?
The most disadvantaged population continues to be the president’s main support against the wealthy classes. However, various leftist intellectuals, human rights defenders, feminists, environmentalists and indigenous people who voted for him are now his critics and billionaires such as Carlos Slim or Ricardo Salinas have become key allies.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT REFORMS?
– The creation of the National Guard and the institutionalization by law of a greater participation of the armed forces in society. The factual power of the military has now been visible and expanded: from the fight against organized crime they have gone on to build an infrastructure, control customs or distribute medicines, a militarization criticized by social entities but not so much by the opposition. However, security continues to be the great pending issue in the country, all analysts agree.
– “Republican austerity” was imposed by law, which reduced excessive spending (including the presidential salary). In addition, they changed the rules on energy and hydrocarbons – a sector that was opened to private investment in the previous administration – to give more power to state companies, which made investors uneasy.
– Social programs were guaranteed in the constitution and a new public health system was created for the most disadvantaged.
– An autonomous federal prosecutor’s office was created – the results of which will be seen when large cases opened for corruption or human rights abuses are concluded -, the Judicial Branch was reformed, the crimes to judge the president were expanded, and popular consultations and re-election were regulated. of legislators.
DOES Q4 PUT THE COUNTERWEIGHTS TO THE PRESIDENTIAL POWER IN DANGER?
Some experts see the reform of the Judiciary as problematic, which, among other things, gives more power to the Supreme Court of Justice and extends the mandate of its current president, contrary to what the constitution stipulates. The reason: as many laws have been appealed, it will be the Court that decides on their constitutionality or not.
Others who consider precisely the fact that the courts have paralyzed many initiatives – especially in economic matters – is a symptom of their independence.
Among the pending issues of Q4 is one of the points that most concern academics: the reform of autonomous bodies such as the National Electoral Institute or the Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data. The president has hinted that they could disappear because they are useless but experts consider them vital for there to be counterweights of power.
Another alarm signal was summed up in a phrase by Flavia Freidenberg, from the Legal Research Institute of the National Autonomous University of Mexico: “There is a tendency to limit pluralism” and that can block the political alternation that guarantees the health of any democracy.
WHAT COMES AFTER JUNE 6?
In the mid-term elections, the Chamber of Deputies will be renewed, 30 of the 32 state congresses and 15 governors will be elected in addition to miles of mayors.
If Morena achieves a large majority in Congress, he will be able to advance without problems the reform of the autonomous bodies, changes in the electoral law or constitutional reforms without the need to agree on them. Some analysts even consider that López Obrador could aspire to draft a new constitution, although the Mexican tradition has opted for decades to reform the existing one (dating from 1917) rather than make a new one.
If Morena does not get a majority, the scenario of a strong leader with a weak party in which the real opposition will be the governors will be reinforced.
But regardless of the electoral results, a key element will be the popular consultation scheduled for 2022 in which Mexicans will say whether or not they want the president to continue governing.
That referendum could put presidential re-election on the table. The constitution prevents it and López Obrador himself has ruled out many times, but it is the ghost that the opposition does not stop feeding.
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