Mexican President Clashes With Electoral Body Over Briefings
(Bloomberg) -- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he will challenge regulations that could prevent the government from airing his daily press conferences during campaign season, setting up a clash with the country’s electoral body ahead of key midterm elections in June.
INE, as the electoral body is known, seeks to halt the continuous broadcasting of Lopez Obrador’s 7 a.m. press briefings for two months starting in April. The president uses the conference, which can last for as long as three hours, to promote his government’s actions, from cash allowances for the poor to advances in infrastructure projects.
“The Constitution is clear: all electoral propaganda has to stop being broadcast during campaigns and that assumption includes Lopez Obrador’s morning conferences,” Lorenzo Cordova, head of INE, said on Monday, according to the newspaper Milenio.
Suspending the broadcast would be “an act of censorship, an offense, an attack on freedom,” Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, said on Tuesday, adding that he will take the case to the courts if the prohibition stands. “This cannot be allowed from a constitutional point of view, from a legal point of view.”
The spat comes as Mexico’s political parties gear up for the June 6 legislative and gubernatorial election. Ruling party Morena, founded by Lopez Obrador, currently controls both houses of congress with allies and it needs to defend its majority to be able to pass an ambitious agenda during the president’s remaining three years in power.
After AMLO’s comments, Cordova clarified the suspension will only affect the full transmission of the conference. Media organizations can still report the president’s comments during the event and reproduce its content partially, he said in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.
The role of the presidents during an election has always been a controversial topic in Mexico, a country with a long tradition of officials influencing the pick of their successors and allies given a ban on re-election. In recent years, the electoral body has intervened in the transmission of presidential events close to the vote to try to guarantee a fair competition.
In 2019, INE suspended the broadcast of Lopez Obrador’s morning conference on social media channels, TV and radio stations in six states that were holding elections. Yet last year, the electoral court rejected a similar order to block the transmission in two other states after a request from the president’s party.
While AMLO didn’t give details of his strategy in case of seeking a court ruling, this may work as a precedent for the campaign starting April 4.
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