Constitutional reforms: The opposition stands up to López Obrador: “Do not count on us to destroy the country”

The opposition has already established its position regarding the extensive package of 20 reforms presented by Andrés Manuel López Obrador and has announced that it will not support most of the initiatives. The reform of the Judiciary and the proposal to eliminate seven autonomous bodies are red lines for the opposition front: the No It is resounding. “Do not count on the PRI to destroy the country,” said the Institutional Revolutionary Party in a statement. His allies from the National Action Party (PAN) also expressed their rejection: “Under no circumstances will we allow freedoms and democracy to be violated, nor the weakening of checks and balances of power.” The leader of the Citizen Movement, Dante Delgado, considered that the bills are an attempt by López Obrador to meddle in the electoral campaign and criticized that his rivals from the PRI and the PAN “always fall for the president’s provocations.” The PAN said that the proposals on pensions and salary increases, widely popular among the population, are “misleading” and announced that its deputies are already preparing a counter-reform.

The PRI has been the party with the most clear positioning. The tricolor, who governed Mexico for more than 70 years without alternation, described the president’s political reforms as “an authoritarian regression” and as an attempt to weaken key institutions for the Mexican State. “It is no coincidence that, a few months before the election, Morena seeks to engage the opposition in a sterile and directionless discussion,” reads a six-point statement. The future of the president’s initiatives, which in almost all cases need the votes of the opposition to be approved, is up in the air. “They know that they do not have the votes to carry out this assault on democracy,” he adds.

López Obrador proposed eliminating organizations such as the INAI, in charge of monitoring the Government’s accountability, as well as regulatory entities of strategic sectors such as telecommunications and energy. He also proposed that the ministers of the Supreme Court and the advisors of the National Electoral Institute (INE) be elected by popular vote, as well as that they have fewer members and receive fewer resources to perform their functions. The president explained that his intention was to dismantle the legacy of the “neoliberal” period, which had four PRI presidents and two PAN presidents.

The PAN was more cautious when speaking out. He said that he was going to analyze the content of the initiatives, but noted that he was against those that are more political, such as the electoral or judicial one. He also expressed his rejection of the reform that would make the National Guard permanently dependent on the Ministry of National Defense. The positions of the front anticipate that the “defense” of the counterweights to presidential power and criticism of López Obrador’s security policy will continue to be their campaign banners. “Today he threatens to reform the Constitution to remove the ministers of the Supreme Court, this would be the end of judicial independence in Mexico and the only counterweight that still stands,” said Xóchitl Gálvez, the opposition candidate for the presidency.

The pension reform is a more complicated issue for the opposition, which has had to modify its position so that it does not take its toll in the elections on June 2. The PRI said that it agrees with a new scheme that gives a more dignified retirement to workers, but it did so before knowing what López Obrador was proposing. PAN member Santiago Creel, Gálvez’s campaign manager, announced the so-called pension counter-reform, but did not specify its content. The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), a minority partner in the alliance, said that the proposals were “pure demagoguery.” “The PRD will only go with initiatives that seek the well-being of the people,” commented its leader, Jesús Zambrano.

Jorge Álvarez Máynez, presidential candidate of Movimiento Ciudadano, pointed out that he supports constitutional changes to improve the conditions of the population. “How can we not agree that Mexicans need decent pensions? “How can we not agree that Mexico deserves a universal social security system?” said the candidate. But he clarified that new solutions must be proposed and not look for them in the “past.” The reforms on social programs, the progressive increase in the minimum wage and a new distribution of pensions will test the opponents, who will have to take care of how they stand up to the proposals and also the cohesion of their parliamentary blocs.

The electoral referee also ruled on the initiatives proposed by López Obrador, most of them recycled from initiatives that he had already presented during his mandate. “The INE is open to dialogue and public debate that must prevail in a democracy,” he stated in a statement, in which he clarified that the proposed changes will not affect the organization of these elections. The INAI took a similar position, of “dialogue and debate”, but stressed that its autonomous functions cannot be absorbed by government entities. Four months before the elections and despite doubts about the legislative path of his proposals, López Obrador has already obtained what he wanted: he continues to be the one who sets the agenda and the tone of the political conversation in Mexico.

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