México at the crossroads of electoral centralization


The Pacto por México coalition, formed by representatives of the government and the political parties, and set with the goal of advancing the Mexican democratic process, has proposed a deep reform of the country’s electoral administration. During negotiations for this political-electoral transformation, an elimination of the state and Federal District electoral institutes was put forward; they would be replaced with a centralized body that as of now bears the tentative names of National Institute for Elections (INE) or “Federal Electoral Super Institute” (IFE).

This way, the INE will handle both federal elections (currently in charge of the IFE) and local ones.

Spokespeople for Pacto por México state that the necessary agreements and political will are in place for the creation of the INE, which would allow a better management of the country’s voting processes.

However, representatives of the 32 local electoral bodies have reacted in face of a possible elimination of their functions and the creation of the INE. As explained by the Director Chairman of the State Electoral Institute (IEE), Armando Guerrero Ramírez, these organisms have requested a technical-financial study from the Congress of the Union that proves the alleged savings this reform would generate -one of the main arguments in favour for the proposal-.

Representatives from the local electoral bodies are looking to form alliances with legislators, former senators and legal experts, in order to create a strong block to defend the benefits of keeping Mexico’s electoral administration decentralized.

The Director Chairwoman of the Federal District Electoral Institute (IEDF), Diana Talavera, considers that a real evaluation of the proposals must take place, “in order to see if the problem would be solved with a centralization of electoral functions”. She added that removing attributions from the local congresses regarding the establishment of their own electoral laws would be a backwards move. “What has happened with electoral laws,” – Talavera stated – “is that they have allowed for innovation and improvements in the state electoral processes. Things like e-voting, which already takes place on a state level, are just being incorporated in the Law [Pacto por México] is proposing.”

The process of political negotiation for the creation of a unique electoral body continues in Mexico. It is up to the country to value what is most convenient for them. There are experiences to consider once all the pros and cons of electoral centralization have been taken into account.

For example, the United States: here, a federal legislation system complicates electoral processes. Mechanisms and regulations vary from state to state, and in some cases, even from county to county. Having such variety of laws and voting mechanisms make it so that voters can face any given voting method or device, which means one state’s concerns may differ from another’s.

On the other hand, nations like Brazil with their Electoral High Court, and Venezuela with their   National Electoral Council, have institutions that concentrate all electoral functions and all states, although they choose their local representatives, are ruled by a central administration. This practice has been positive, especially when it comes to avoiding political problems. We will wait for Mexico’s decision.

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