Crisis in the Electoral Court: three magistrates push for the president’s departure

This Thursday’s session at the Electoral Tribunal of the Judicial Branch of the Federation (TEPJF) unleashed the crisis. Surprisingly, one of the magistrates requested to include in the day’s agenda the permanence of the president of the body, Reyes Rodríguez Mondragón. Two other of the five members of the court joined that request, under the idea that they had lost confidence in their leadership. Six months before the largest elections in Mexican history, Rodríguez Mondragón refused to leave his position at that time, asked for time until Monday to make a decision and considered the possibility of taking the matter to the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico. the nation. For now, the situation has been put on hold until next Monday, when they meet again. The president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has asked that he “make a settlement” soon, although he noted that it was “better not to comment” on the resignation request.

The session that took place on Thursday at the Electoral Tribunal was initially scheduled for Wednesday. In the live broadcast, which is published on social networks, Judge Felipe Fuentes could be seen taking the floor to request that the possible departure of Rodríguez Mondragón be included in the agenda. “He cannot be at the head of this Court if he does not have the consensus and support of his colleagues,” he said. “Mr. president, “Take a step aside and return to being a worthy member of this plenary session,” Judge Mónica Soto requested. After the request of his colleagues, which the president refused to respond to, the five members went to recess. Both Rodríguez Mondragón and Judge Janine Otálora, who was against the move, did not return to the session, so it was postponed until next Monday due to lack of quorum.

“Out of respect for the institution and my mandate as a constitutional judge, I withdrew from the session of the Electoral Court as there were no conditions for dialogue. I trust that the magistrates will be at the same level as a country with democratic dynamics,” Otálora published on Thursday night on the social network of the court are the unjustified hiring of people in recent times and the intervention of a private law firm in the Court.

The crisis in the highest judicial body on electoral issues does not come without a political background. The dissemination of a photo that portrays a recent dinner supposedly between Judge Soto and deputy Sergio Gutiérrez Luna, of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), unleashed theories about a possible political strategy to displace Rodríguez Mondragón and put him in charge of the Court to someone more friendly to the current Executive. But the president of the body ruled out that theory on Thursday afternoon. “Do you think there is interference from the federal government?” a reporter asks him. “No,” he responds forcefully.

The seams of the Court’s stability had already begun to come apart a few days ago. On December 4, Rodríguez Mondragón had to present his activities report before the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court and the advisors of the Judiciary of the Judicial Branch. The three judges who later asked for his resignation did not attend that session. Tensions were already on the rise in those days. In September of this year, the president of the judicial body acknowledged in an interview with this newspaper that the independence of the court “has gone through critical moments” during the López Obrador Administration. Although he assured: “The court is a solid, independent, impartial institution that has a certain stability and that, despite these critical moments, we have been able to arbitrate electoral processes.”

Rodríguez Mondragón came to office in August 2021 after the majority of the judges of the Superior Chamber dismissed the then president of the body, José Luis Vargas, for violating the “principles and duties” of his position and committing “abuses” during its management. Vargas left amid accusations and judicial investigations for illicit enrichment. More than two years and six months after Mexico goes to the polls in what will be the largest election in its history, the body in charge of decisions that lead to a fair electoral game is faltering again.

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