'New' legislative times

The session lasted more than 14 hours, although the decision was made from the beginning: the laws that give the Ministry of National Defense control of the National Guard were approved just as the president had sent them to the Chamber just three days before. of Deputies.

With 487 deputies present, the pro-government majority – made up of 264 legislators from Morena, PT and PVEM – voted in favor of the changes to the Organic Law of the Federal Public Administration, the Law of the National Guard and the Organic Law of the Army and Mexican Air Force.

220 opposition legislators voted against (113 from the PAN, 67 from the PRI, 25 from the MC and 15 from the PRD); in addition to the deputy of Morena Inés Parra Juárez.

Two morenistas abstained in the vote in general: Manuel Vázquez Arellano -who is also known as “Omar García”, a student at the Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa-, and the Oaxacan Antonio Altamirano Carol.

Eight other brunettes were absent from the session, but their votes were not necessary to approve the legal changes that specify what is already known as “the militarization of the National Guard”.

In contrast to the disagreement on this issue, in the same session the changes to the Law on Promotions and Rewards of the Mexican Army and Air Force were voted almost unanimously, with 458 votes in favor, one abstention, 25 votes against – of the MC caucus- and the suffrage against the morenista Inés Parra.

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What happened on Friday night and Saturday morning will have an impact on the security strategy, and is an important indicator of the times ahead in the relationship between the president and Congress.

The National Guard was one of the three issues on which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had announced, since last year, the constitutional reform initiatives with which he would close his six-year term.

The first was the reform in electrical matters, which was denied by the opposition in the ordinary period of last February-April.

The failure of this reform generated great annoyance in the National Palace and in the official ranks, from where a lynching campaign was launched against the opposition with the stigma of “traitors to the outcast”.

This caused an interesting change of strategy in the head of the Executive, who had originally announced that the reforms to the National Guard would be sought in the year 2023.

Faced with the “constitutional moratorium” announced by the PRI, PAN and PRD -whose votes are necessary for the qualified majority that requires a reform of the Constitution-, the president did two things:

On the one hand, it advanced the issue of the National Guard at the beginning of the second year of the LXV Legislature.

And, on the other hand, he discarded the constitutional reform and sent to Congress an initiative of changes to four secondary laws to achieve his objective: to put the National Guard under the control and tutelage of the Army.

Beyond the fact that this reform is contested before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation by the parties that during the debate argued that the changes implied an abuse of the Constitution, the presidential strategy sets a precedent of what could come in the other great issue where López Obrador wants changes before the end of the six-year term.

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That issue is the political-electoral one, which López Obrador had announced as his priority for the year 2022.

The president already presented a broad initiative on this matter last April. An initiative drafted by two senior officials of the Ministry of Finance -Pablo Gómez, head of the FIU, and Horacio Duarte, head of Customs-, which aims to reform 18 articles of the Constitution, “eliminate” the National Electoral Institute and create the Institute National Elections and Consultations, among other proposals.

The reaction to this initiative has been rejection by the opposition and a good part of public opinion.

Legislators and opposition leaders, specialists and various voices from civil society have warned that this initiative could lead to the dismantling of the electoral system and the control of elections by the Executive, as was the case before the creation of the IFE in 1990.

The issue has already been discussed in “open parliament” forums promoted by Morena and convened by the Political Coordination Board, at whose tables the viability of the president’s proposals was questioned, mainly that of electing INEC councilors by popular vote. and to the magistrates of the Electoral Tribunal.

But beyond what happened in those forums, the legislative arithmetic indicates that the Executive will not have the votes for a constitutional reform -as happened with the electrical reform and that of the National Guard.

Perhaps for this reason, in Morena the possibility of promoting a reform of secondary laws in electoral matters is already being considered, turning the debate, the negotiation, the agreements and the broad consensus that would require a constitutional reform in this matter.

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This was suggested by Pablo Gómez, one of the authors of the initiative, in the Morena plenary session prior to the start of the ordinary period, where he called on them to “prepare a good package of legal reforms, and not be mortified by the constitutional reform.”

If that will be the method, we will have to turn on the alerts: a legal reform to the electoral system imposed by a majority of 264 votes, in a session at dawn, would not be a good precedent for what is to come.

On the one hand, the renewal of the General Council of the INE, scheduled for April 2023 and whose call must be issued next February. And, on the other hand, the 2024 electoral process, whose formal start is scheduled for September of next year.

Be careful: the majority vote, exclusion and albazo could result in an electoral law similar to what López Obrador wants, but from today they would sow the seed of the 2024 post-election conflict.


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