On June 19th, within its prompt extraordinary session period, the Chamber of Deputies approved modifications to the 87th article of the newly created Political Parties’ Law (LPP). Although these changes still need to be voted and approved by the Senate in order to be permanent, the modification intends to reverse one of the few breakthroughs of the political-electoral reform that was approved in 2013 in which, among other things, provides clarity to the voting of political parties that enter into a coalition and also limits the option of negotiating percentages of voting distribution that mostly benefitted small parties. On one hand, the change in LPP shows the lack of a project on political-electoral matters and, on the other hand, the continuous opportunism of political parties who rather than looking for progress within the electoral institution or a true political representativeness are only interested in gaining more power and financial benefits.
The 2013 Political-Electoral Reform and the LPP that was approved on May 23rd and is in force to date, hit a hard blow to small parties because if there are cases of double-marking in the electoral ballot – that is to say, when a voter double-crosses two or more logos of a coalition candidate – the vote will only count for the candidate and not for the parties as it happened before. This means that parties do not get a voting percentage that can be crucial at the moment of gaining the minimum threshold to keep the register and decreases the number of seats of proportional representation. On the other hand, this new ruling provides greater clarity for the voting intention of the everyday citizen since it enables to know when a person is voting for the candidate of the coalition rather than for one of the parties since, as it was already mentioned, if a citizen double-crosses a ballot, the vote stands in favor of the candidate and not of the parties. The modifications on the LPP’s 87th article eliminate this transparency within electoral arithmetic that would reveal which parties take most advantage of allying themselves with other political forces.
All political parties, except for the National Action Party (PAN), agreed that was established in the electoral law violates the right to equality, freedom of association and also prevents a fair representation of minorities. However, the interest of parties to reverse this reform is not to be found in defending either representation or minorities but in protecting their ability to access financial resources and gaining the highest number possible of representatives in power. Firstly, LPP, which potentially decreases the profits of those small parties that get into coalition alongside the Political Reform, which increased the threshold to maintain the political registry to three percent, puts at risk the survival as well as the access to public finances of parties such as the Worker’s Party (PT) or Citizens’ Movement, which both traditionally ally themselves with PRD or organizations such as the Green Party and National Alliance Party (PANAL), who usually link themselves with PRI. Secondly, the prerogatives that would be received by factions in Congress – which amounted to more than 250 million pesos in 2012 – would be reduced since they depend on the number of Deputies or Senators that are part of them. The speed on changes to the LPP makes evident the lack of a great vision or project for political development and also showcases how electoral institutions are far from creating a representative and fair system because they are bound to the party’s interests that aim to keep their electoral flexibility, financial resources, over-representation and negotiating powers. If that’s the way things happen in “their” own world, how can we expect to have a vision of competition and transparency on matters such as energy or telecommunications?