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Zaldívar’s consultation

I still believe that the presiding minister of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Arturo Zaldívar, is acting correctly in the dispute regarding the proposal approved by Congress to extend his mandate for two more years. I do not know if at any time the minister-president himself considered the possibility, and under what conditions, of remaining in office, but since the controversy arose in Congress, he has done the right thing.

He did not speak out publicly because he was unable to do so. He opted for the members of the full Court to decide. Now, after the elections, he has proposed that the plenary conduct a “consultation”, a much faster, direct process that is settled by a simple majority, to establish what the SCJN should do with the decision of Congress and establish, in that meaning, if the Legislative is invading or not judicial functions. The plenary session must establish how many votes are required to approve or reject that decision: as it is taken by simple majority, it is assumed that also with this modality the plenary session of the Court will vote on the consultation.

The proposal will be presented on Monday, you will have to address a minister to present your opinion and the plenary will vote on it, as we said, surely by a simple majority. According to Zaldívar, between July and August (before or after the two-week vacation, at the end of July) the issue will have to be decided.

A consultation, like the one proposed by Zaldívar, can only be carried out for issues that involve the Judiciary itself. The last one was presented during the administration of Genaro Góngora Pimentel, when the Chamber of Deputies approved a law that established that an instance of the Council of the Judiciary would have to render its report to the legislators. On that occasion, the plenary session of the minister decided that this was an undue interference by the Legislature in the Judiciary, and ordered that this report be presented to the plenary itself.

I don’t see how the decision to extend the term of the minister-president for two years could be sustained. This would have been feasible with an agreement of the ministers themselves a long time ago, in the current circumstances it seems impossible to reach that majority, nor can I imagine Minister Zaldívar willing to bet his political capital on it.

It will be the ministers who will decide what will happen with the proposed extension of the mandate, and that decision will be taken long before an action of unconstitutionality could be presented and decided, which, in addition, would end up being defined by a qualified majority instead of, as proposed now, by a simple majority of ministers. This is how it should be.

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CHANGES IN THE CABINET

President López Obrador said he was happy with the results of Sunday’s elections and attributed the defeats in Mexico City and the Metropolitan Area to a smear campaign in the media.

Mexico City was lost by Morena due to a sum of factors, the first and foremost, the serious mistakes made before, during and after the pandemic. Since the beginning of the administration, there has not been a single measure to support a middle class that had already been punished by the Peña Nieto government: it was not the White House or Ayotzinapa, what punished Peña Nieto was the tax reform that was carried out in the first year of his government, which removed numerous fiscal supports from the middle class and dramatically increased taxes, which made him lose that sector that had largely voted for him. Then, the so-called gasoline hit made him lose, beyond its concrete effects, what would have been left of that support.

That middle class was the one that gave López Obrador the victory in 2018. In the two and a half years in government, the middle class has not received a single benefit: on the contrary, they took away from childcare centers to the Popular Insurance, from medicines to service. In the pandemic, Mexico City was the worst hit in the country, had the highest number of infected, the highest number of deaths, the highest loss of formal jobs and the highest number of small and medium-sized companies closed. National GDP fell 9%, but in CDMX it was 12.5%. And to that we must add, among other things, the collapse of Line 12.

So much so that the first change that the President makes in his team is the departure of Arturo Herrera, who will end up in the enviable position of Governor of the Bank of Mexico, and the arrival at the Treasury of Rogelio Ramírez de la O, a respected economist, close to President López Obrador, but with a background superior to that of Herrera, with a long stay in the United States, where his consulting firm works with the large multinationals based there. Ramírez de la O, it was said yesterday, will be the one who builds the budget for next year and, inevitably, will have to modify many things, because, without the vote of the middle class and, therefore, without the urban vote, the future of the administration will be more than shadowed. And today, Morena does not control almost any of the large cities in the country.

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