Thousands protest against Mexico election revision Portal Canada

Thousands protest against Mexico election revision – Portal Canada

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 26 (Portal) – Thousands rallied in cities across Mexico on Sunday to protest President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s efforts to downsize the independent electoral body, arguing that the changes threaten democracy — an accusation , which he vigorously denies.

Mexico’s Congress last week approved a major overhaul of the National Electoral Institute (INE), which Lopez Obrador has repeatedly attacked as corrupt and inefficient.

Critics of the legislation that will cut the INE’s budget and staff are holding demonstrations in Mexico City and other major cities as the controversial restructuring nears going to the Mexican Supreme Court.

Veronica Echevarria, a 58-year-old Mexico City psychologist who attended the protests, said she was concerned that Lopez Obrador’s overhaul of the INE was an attempt by him to seize control of the electoral body so that he could be in power could stay.

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“We are fighting to defend our democracy,” she said, wearing a cap that read “Hands off INE”.

They and thousands of others descended on Paseo de la Reforma Boulevard into the Zocalo on Sunday morning, many of them dressed in pink, the colors of the INE.

Video footage on social media showed people approaching the square holding banners that read, “Hands off my vote.”

According to many political analysts, the INE and its predecessor played a key role in creating a pluralistic democracy that ended decades of one-party rule in 2000.

Fernando Belaunzaran, an opposition politician who helped organize the protests, said the changes have weakened the voting system and increased the risk of disputes that will cloud the 2024 election when Lopez Obrador’s successor is elected.

“Usually presidents try to make their succession governable and stable, but the president creates uncertainty,” Belaunzaran said. “He’s playing with fire.”

Belaunzaran said in a tweet on Sunday that there would be demonstrations in more than 100 cities.

Mexican presidents can only serve a single term of six years.

Lopez Obrador, a 69-year-old leftist who claims he was twice robbed of the presidency before eventually winning a landslide victory in the 2018 election, argues the INE is too expensive and biased in favor of its opponents.

The Institute denies this.

According to INE, the presidential reshuffle violates the constitution, limits the institute’s independence and eliminates thousands of jobs dedicated to securing the electoral process, making it more difficult to hold free and fair elections.

Lopez Obrador has also weakened other autonomous bodies that control his power because they drain public coffers and are hostile to his political project. He says his INE restructuring will save $150 million a year.

Last week he called the INE “anti-democratic” and a tool of the ruling elite and accused it of fueling electoral fraud.

Polls show that the President’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), which has become the dominant force in Mexico in just a few years, is a strong favorite to win the 2024 election.

Critics of the INE overhaul argue Lopez Obrador is not confident MORENA can remain in power without interference in the electoral process. He denies this.

Belaunzaran and his cronies want to fill Mexico City’s main square, which is adjacent to the presidential palace and is of political importance.

Over the years, the Zocalo has hosted many rallies led by Lopez Obrador, both as president and during his long career as an oppositional scourge of the Mexican establishment.

Demonstrators hope Sunday’s protest will garner even more support than the tens of thousands who turned out in November to denounce Lopez Obrador’s previous unsuccessful attempt to push through constitutional amendments reforming the INE.

Reporting by Dave Graham Additional reporting by Diego Ore and Valentine Hilaire Editing by Josie Kao and Diane Craft

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