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Mexico: National Electoral Institute Challenges Reduction of Its Budget Before Supreme Court

(Feb. 4, 2019) Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (Instituto Nacional Electoral, INE) filed a constitutional suit before the Supreme Court of the Nation against the reduction of 950 million pesos (nearly US$50 million) that the lower house of Congress (Cámara de Diputados, Chamber of Deputies) made to the INE’s 2019 expenditures budget and the salary reductions imposed on INE officials. (Carina García, INE Initiates Constitutional Challenge to Budget Cuts Before SCJN, EL UNIVERSAL (Jan. 23, 2019) (in Spanish).)

According to the INE, the budget reduction was unjustifiable and arbitrary, and puts at risk the INE’s capacity to carry out the functions assigned to it by the Constitution, in that the reduction “clearly violates its financial autonomy and its economic independence, requiring it to stop fulfilling its obligations, or negotiating budget increases with the federal government.” (Id.)

The lawsuit also questions the Chamber of Deputies’ “invasion of the INE’s functional jurisdiction” by affecting the working conditions of the INE’s public servants, which are governed by electoral law and by the Statute of the National Electoral Professional Service and Administrative Branch (Estatuto del Servicio Profesional Electoral Nacional y de la Rama Administrativa). (Id.)

Additionally, the INE stated in a press release that such a budget reduction would prevent independent and autonomous local elections from being held in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Baja California, Aguascalientes, Durango, and Quintana Roo. According to the INE, the legislators’ decision violates the effective exercise of citizens’ political and electoral rights. The INE argues that this decision creates difficulties in issuing millions of electoral IDs free of charge, controlling the financial resources that political parties and candidates are permitted to receive, monitoring the radio and television time allotted to candidates, and meeting other constitutional and legal obligations. (Héctor Gutiérrez, Formaliza INE Controversia Contral PEF, REFORMA (Jan. 23, 2019) (available by subscription).)