This past week President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Morena ran into a series of legal setbacks with serious implications for the future of his Fourth Transformation project.
Perhaps the most important were the INE and TEPJF decisions to close loopholes that the incumbent Morena party exploited to leverage the simple majority it and its allies had won at the ballot box three years ago into the two-thirds hold it enjoys over the Chamber of Deputies today. At issue is the need to regulate a “governability clause” re-enacted in 2013 during a period in which no party enjoyed a workable majority in Congress. That is until 2018.
Legislative seats are distributed based on formulas combining the number of the country’s 300 single-member districts each party wins and each one’s share of the vote in each of five multi-member proportional representation districts. The Constitution limits the party with the largest share of the single-member vote up to an 8% bonus when proportional representation seats are allotted, but Morena managed to stretch that to roughly 14%. The party achieved this by having some of its politicians run as candidates of its coalition partners, only to have them bolt for the Morena caucus once each party’s vote totals were confirmed.
Under the new INE-TEPJF criteria, the seats used in determining proportional apportionment will be counted for the party with which the winning candidate has an "effective affiliation," regardless of which party label they ran under. The new rules could prevent Morena from having a two-thirds qualified majority that would enable it to enact constitutional reforms − which AMLO considers essential to his 4T project − on its own.
Another major setback was INE's reaffirming its decision to rule Morena’s gubernatorial hopefuls in Guerrero and Michoacán off the ballot for failing to file their primary campaign finance reports. The President’s telecommunications and hydrocarbons laws are also facing constitutional challenges from autonomous government agencies.
AMLO is not taking all this lightly, lashing out at INE board members and TEPJF judges as being enemies of democracy and at the service of the old regime and conservative forces. He has also threatened to have Congress eliminate the government institutions that have obstructed his policies, or at least strip them of autonomy.
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