Friday, February 24, 2012

The attacks on Mexico's electoral reform

I had the great pleasure of conducting an interview yesterday with Jorge Alcocer, who played a key role as an architect of Mexico's 2007-8 electoral reform. It was highly interesting and enlightening for many reasons, but perhaps in particular to a very current issue: The many attacks we have seen in the media recently on the electoral reform, coming particularly from commentators like Joaquín López-Dóriga, and many others.

Alcocer admitted the reform was far from perfect - and as one of its designers, he surely has his own reason to applaud it - but what I found interesting is how he argued so much of the attacks  - not all, but many - are principally a product of the continued opposition of Mexico's media giants, represented by the national council for radio and television, CIRT, for the big economic losses they have faced after the reform was enacted.

To recall, no party is allowed to buy and air ads in electronic media; these are now all alloted by IFE, the federal electoral institute. Parties can't buy ads; CIRT members lose money.

He also noted that much of the criticism have been directed at the reform due to the behavior of IFE, which has indeed been very restrictive when it comes to regulating and at one point even seemingly banning candidate debates, and CIRT's people have used this to attack directly the reform - which did in no way ban this.

As if to prove Alcocer's point, the very same day President Vicente Fox again came out against attacking one product of the reform, the veda electoral or ban on campaigning until the election season officially begins. One would think that someone whose behavior and interference in Mexico's electoral processes was rebuked by Mexico's electoral tribunal in 2006 - it even jeopardized the elections, the tribunal declared in its ruling - would keep his mouth shut on such issues.

I made several interviews with IFE councilors a while ago and with these and Alcocer's insights I will hopefully put a paper out for an upcoming conference, though right noow, I am buried in work for my book. Posting will for the foreseable future therefore be rather light as a consequence.


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