Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The cost of Mexico's 2012 election: 16 billion pesos. Church weighs in.

Mexico's federal electoral institute (IFE) has requested almost 16 billion pesos for the 2012 presidential election. This whopping sim is particularly notable as the 2007-08 electoral reform had as one of its main goals to reduce the cost of elections, principally due to only allowing parties to contract tv/radio advertisements through slots allotted to them by IFE, rather than purchasing themselves at a massive cost.

Head of IFE Leonardo Valdés defended the cost - 30 percent higher than in 2006 - as a  product of IFE's new functions that include, among others, much more expanded media monitoring, but also due to increased insecurity as a product of the fight with and between drug gangs. He also insists  that the institute is ready for 2012, though public approval of - and faith in - IFE has been dropping notably in recent months.

Some of this may be attributed to the Catholic church, which demanded that the institute be a representative of citizens and not of parties, while it denounced the IFE's rising operating costs. The church also attacked the "restrictive laws" of 2007 that it claims restrict freedom of expression, even though it was not passed by IFE but by Congress and IFE merely has to follow the new legislation. It also conspicuously made no mention of the recent IFE/TEPJF verdict that the Archdiocese broke the law in its attack on the PRD.

One of church's points is well taken, though: It criticized the lack of autonomy of state electoral institutes and their ease of manipulation vis-a-vis state governors. This is truly an increasing problem that was noted by several of IFE's councilors I interviewed last summer.

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