The health and culture commissions of the Mexican House of Representatives were taken away from the evangelical Social Encounter Party (PES) after protests by artistic and feminist organizations and given back to the National Renewal Movement (Morena), of center-left President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
The harsh criticism made the Political Coordination Board of the legislative branch to reconsider their decision, as the PES policies as seen as contrary to the progressive health agenda expected from Morena.
Both parties ran in the July 1 general elections in the “Together We’ll Make History” coalition. Analysts saw a strategic alliance between both parties, as Morena needed votes to win the presidency and a majority in the legislative houses and the PES was struggling to retain their registry.
In the end, Morena’s landslide victory showed that their alliance with the conservative party did more harm than good, and PES lost its registry but managed to place a relatively large number of lawmakers in both houses.
In exchange for health and culture, two controversial commissions, PES got sports and work and social care.
However, the outcome of the exchange was not that expected by critical voices. The culture commission is now going to be headed by Sergio Mayer, a singer and soap opera actor that also took part in the theatrical striptease show “Only For Women” and had no experience in politics before joining Morena’s ranks.
To Hugo Eric Flores, leader of the extinct PES, the appointment smelled like a dubious political agreement.
“If Morena’s proposal is Sergio Mayer, the Social Encounter proposal is Ricardo de la Peña,” said Flores, in reference of the historian and former director of Villahermosa’s Natural History Museum.
Flores had repeatedly asked voters not to “discriminate” his political party, often blamed for being ultra-conservative and mixing politics with religion.
“We respect everyone's beliefs, everyone’s way of life, and we only demand the same respect back,” Flores said in a video shared on social media. “There are millions of people that think like us and people that don’t think like us, and we have no problem with that.”
But PES has in the past promoted bills that go against LGBT and women’s rights, such as same sex marriage or the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, and many in Mexico feared that their conservative agenda might have hampered progressive efforts on health laws or promote restrictive censorships on moral grounds.
Morena, in turn, has promised to legalize abortion at national level, as currently women can only carry out this procedure in Mexico City.
Heading a commission doesn’t mean the party has total control over what’s passed or not, but it does grant them the right to decide what’s discussed.
The House of Representatives was renovated on September 1 and Morena holds the majority with 254 seats out of 500. The PES, thanks to the alliance, holds 30.