Mexican president accuses Supreme Court of bias

Mexico City, Jun 20 (EFE).- President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador renewed Tuesday his attack on Mexico’s Supreme Court amid signs that a majority of the judges are poised to overturn the second element of an electoral reform bill supported by the administration, having already thrown out the first element.

“The judges are aligned, the majority, with the conservative bloc. The entire judiciary,” the leftist president said during his daily morning news conference.

“It’s a branch at the service of a minority, they are not at the service of the people. It does not impart justice taking the people into account as the principal factor. It’s a branch at the service of an elite,” Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, told reporters.

His comments came a day after the court released the text of a brief by Judge Javier Laynez urging his colleagues to invalidate the second part of the legislation on the same grounds that they tossed out the first part last month: ostensible procedural violations in the passage of the bill in February.

The high court judges voted 9-2 to invalidate the portion of the electoral reform plan that eliminated the existing prohibition on officeholders’ participation in election campaigns.

That prohibition, meant to stop outgoing presidents – Mexico’s head of state is limited to a single term of six years – from putting a finger on the scales in the elections to choose their successors, has never been very effective.

During the 2006 campaign, the National Electoral Institute (INE) concluded that conservative incumbent Vicente Fox unduly interfered to aid his party’s candidate, Felipe Calderon, against AMLO.

Even so, the INE declined to take any action and rejected AMLO’s request for a recount after Calderon prevailed by less than 1 percent of the vote.

Part two of the proposed reform would cut the INE’s annual budget by 3.5 billion pesos ($206 million) and reduce its staff by 85 percent.

AMLO said Tuesday that he expects the Supreme Court to throw out the election reform package in its entirety.

“How can you believe that they will leave that law standing if it’s established here that nobody should earn more than the president, as Article 127 of the constitution orders, and the judges are the first to violate the constitution because they earn three and even four times more than the president,” he said.

When AMLO took office in December 2018, Article 127 was effectively a dead letter because Congress never passed legislation to enforce the limit on officials’ pay.

In line with his program of “republican austerity,” the new president persuaded lawmakers to enact the necessary laws while simultaneously reducing his own salary by 40 percent The INE, which presided over the rigged 1988 election that kept the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in power, opposes the electoral reforms, insisting that they will undermine its autonomy and “harm the equity of the contest.”

AMLO reaffirmed Tuesday that he intends to propose a constitutional amendment that would place the selection of judges in the hands of the electorate.

“This is why we need a reform of the judiciary,” he said. “What we have to do is have the people choose the judges.” EFE ppc/dr

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