Politics: Decision to ram through the 2022 spending budget sets the stage for future conflict

MEXICO - Report 22 Nov 2021 by Guillermo Valdes and Francisco González

The Chamber of Deputies approved November 14, the 2022 federal expenditure budget with 273 votes in favor and 213 opposed. The governing camp introduced only two changes to the administration’s original proposal, which now projects slightly more than 7 trillion pesos in spending, but rejected absolutely all of the hundreds of the changes raised by opposition deputies.

The fact of the administration's pushing through its proposals in this manner sends three important political messages that will certainly come into play in future discussions of presidential proposals such as the constitutional reform on the electric power sector: 1) all lawmakers and state governors from Morena, the PT and PVEM are totally in line with the president’s agenda; 2) AMLO has no intention of governing on behalf of anyone but himself and his followers; and, 3) he is determined to gain control over the National Electoral Institute (INE) and bring the judiciary to heel. That will be one of the key objectives of the political reform, one that is of fundamental importance to sustaining his overall political project.

AMLO doesn’t really appear all that interested per se in the proposed voter consultation on whether he should be allowed to serve out the remainder of his term of office. With only the Morena camp organizing for it, he is assured of victory, but one that pales in comparison to the need to reinforce his case for the political reform that will include replacing INE councilors and slashing public funding for political parties and the number of members of Congress chosen on the basis of proportional representation.

The president has been starving the electoral authority of funding even as he steps up in his efforts to undermine the credibility of INE officials along with those from other autonomous bodies. Those efforts have set the stage for a major showdown in the coming months surrounding the organization of the proposed presidential recall vote that ultimately is designed as a political trap the Institute will be especially hard pressed to avoid.

INE head Lorenzo Córdova has already said he will file a constitutional appeal, thereby assuring that it will be up to the Supreme Court to determine whether the INE has the resources needed to organize the consultation without the additional funds the Institute is requesting.

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