Congressional members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) expressed their concern over the reduction in personnel by the Federal Electoral Institute (Instituto Federal Electoral, IFE). These layoffs began in early March and are part the IFE’s attempts to reduce their normal $6.2 billion peso (about $500 million dollar) annual operating budget by 10 percent.
According to Arturo Zamora, a PRI member, the party’s congressional delegation is worried that fewer workers will hinder the agency’s capacity to fulfill its functions and ensure the integrity of the country’s electoral system. He stated that there are other ways it can reduce expenditures, such as reducing salaries, and mentioned plans to call the IFE’s president to testify before Congress to justify the agency’s approach.
Germán Manuel León Rodríguez, a leading member of the Association of Electoral Workers of the Republic of Mexico (Asociación de Trabajadores Electorales de la República Mexicana), has also criticized the IFE’s plans. The association was established recently after strong opposition prevented the creation of a formal union for IFE workers. On February 22, the group and a separate union organization filed a complaint against the Mexican government with the International Labor Office, which is part of the UN’s International Labor Organization that is dedicated to protecting workers’ rights.
According to León Rodríguez, the IFE plans to cut 1,500 employees, a number disputed by other authorities that say about 120 will be laid off. He also expressed his belief that the personnel cuts may have been motivated as retribution for workers’ attempts to unionize. Another consequential decision by the IFE is its announcement that it will postpone further work with the Secretary of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB) on creating a national voter ID card, which was the subject of another Justice in Mexico blog on January 26.