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In the midst of the debate about a new electoral reform, the former president of the Electoral Court of the Judicial Power of the Federation (TEPJF), Flavio Galván Rivera, proposed the creation of the Electoral Power, which would integrate the INE, the Court and an Attorney for the Defense of the Political Rights of the Citizen, in order to the elections are totally autonomous, without fraud and without the intervention of political actors.

interviewed by The Economist, the magistrate asked not to fear or be surprised by the expressions of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and political actors from Morena, who have expressed the intention of carrying out an electoral reform to remove the current magistrates from the TEPJF and counselors of OTHER. He indicated that although it is not ideal, the removal of electoral officials should not be surprising.

“I have come to talk about the electoral miscellany, similar to the fiscal miscellany. There was legislation for the 1988 election, another for the 1999 election, there was another regulation for the 1997 election and another for the year 2000, and there we stopped this constant reform. If we review all these reforms, we will see that the substitution of councilors and the substitution of magistrates was always discussed and carried out, except for the reform of 1993 that expressly established that the magistrates would continue in their positions, but there was a substitution of counselors.

“The 1990 reform of Cofipe, which created the IFE, came to replace an institution that no one trusted anymore, the Federal Election Commission that it was created in 1946. The normal thing in any reform is that there may be a change of persons responsible for the fulfillment of duties; Hopefully this is not the case, but if so, it is nothing new; I believe that no one should worry, no one should be scared, what should concern us is that there are people professionally, morally, from an ethical point of view and I could even say emotionally, to adequately fulfill the function entrusted to them, because it is a commitment to the Republic. The changes should not scare us or those who are, nor those of us who are outside seeing all the movement that may be, “he said.

Magistrate outlines his proposal; IFE and that the TEPJF pass from the Judicial Power to the Electoral

“That the INE continues to be an independent body, with constitutional autonomy as it has been perfected since 1993. The electoral Tribunal it must also be an institution independent of the Judiciary

“For many years I have postulated the need to establish an Electoral Power, obviously this brings as a consequence a constitutional reform without the need to increase bureaucracy, but to systematize. Integrate the Electoral Power with the Electoral Court, with a Federal Electoral Institute -not national- with constitutional autonomy, a Prosecutor for Electoral Crimes independent of the Attorney General of the Republic, plus the political parties, and the only institutional bureaucratic addition that I propose is the creation of a Attorney for the Defense of the Political Rights of the Citizen o Public Defender of Citizen Political Right, and this would integrate the electoral power.

“This would not be new, this exists in Nicaragua, in Venezuela, in Costa Rica and in Ecuador, although in Costa Rica it is not called Power but the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. In Costa Rica and Ecuador, the division of powers in four different spheres has worked well,” he explained.

Would it be the formal creation of a fourth Power? -She was asked.

“Yes, formally it would be the fourth power,” he replied.

“(Electoral autonomy) would be strengthened, for example, the INE would stop intervening in local elections, for that there are the local institutes that we have to strengthen, as well as the local electoral courts in the 32 entities. We have to seek the strengthening, but also the strengthening of electoral federalism; that each state organizes its elections, its rules in accordance with the general guidelines established in the federal Constitution.

“I believe that a reform can restructure what I called the Electoral Power without having to regret the reforms, rather, we would have to see the institutions strengthened. I propose, for example, for the Superior Chamber that the magistrates, like the ministers, last in office for 15 years with this renewal mechanism that is already established in the law: staggered renewal; and in its internal organization constitute two rooms and a plenary session. Two rooms because that would allow us to work more quickly than it is currently. A reform that reorganizes the Upper room in two rooms and a plenary session they would make the resolution of matters much more agile. It seems to me that seven magistrates for a dismissal is too much, even the dismissals could be the sentence of a unitary magistrate, and only in case of disagreement would three of the seven magistrates know them, and in a matter of conventionality, of violation of international and constitutional treaties , then let the seven solve the case.”

How to convince that it is the path of electoral reform?

“There are so many initiative projects from Morena, the PRD, the PAN, the PRI, all the parties that exist have made proposals. A serious meeting, well informed, with the best intentions and try to make this reform. And economic issues have their influence and we have to satisfy the needs with the corresponding adjustments and it must be analyzed based on the budgetary sufficiency in the Chamber of Deputies”.

Also interviewed in the framework of the Strengthening Commission that the TEPJF recently created to carry out an internal reform, Judge Flavio Galván stated that within all institutions there are differences and crises that must be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. He suggested that the TEPJF allow the trial and hearing online to adapt to the new normality of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as publish all the sentence projects.

“Differences are normal everywhere. It is normal for a referee to have differences. In the same vote, being seven magistrates, it is established that the simple minority determines the meaning of the sentences, and in case of a tie, the President is given a vote of confidence. Don’t let differences scare us, don’t let some acts of disorganization scare us, I don’t know if there are, it’s normal in human life. The important thing is that, if there is any difference, sit down to talk, express points of view and give the best possible solution to what happens at that moment.

“A thorough, careful, serious review, which hopefully will give us more strength and few reform projects, not for not wanting to reform, but for strengthening what has been done. But where the course has to be corrected, it must be corrected. What needs to be reconsidered must be renewed.

“I hope that all the changes that take place in the country in electoral matters are for the strengthening of the Mexican democratic system in electoral matters, which is an example for many other countries in the world. Ecuador and the Dominican Republic have followed the model of electoral institutions in Mexico,” he concluded.

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