COVID-19 and Hidalgo Elections in 2020
In early April, the General Council of the National Electoral Institute (INE), through a historic virtual session, suspended different stages of the June 2020 electoral process in Coahuila and Hidalgo due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
INE’s resolution, in the case of the Hidalgo elections in all 84 of its ayuntamientos (city council or municipalities), dictates that registrations, campaigns, and election day are postponed until further notice. One month after this decision, no precise date has yet been set for the resumption of Hidalgo’s electoral process.
Among the municipalities of the Otomi-Tepehua and across Hidalgo, one of the many concerns is what will happen if September 5, 2020 arrives and the new municipal authorities have not yet been elected? Or will the current government administrations extend their mandate? Or will candidates assume leade roles, supplanting current officeholders?
The answer to these questions is found in the state’s legal framework, i.e., the Organic Municipal Law of the State of Hidalgo, which establishes a fairly simple procedure to resolve this type of case.
The local Congress determines that there is a “disappearance of the municipality” as defined under Article 33, section I. This means that the Local Legislative Power, as outlined in Article 34, is transferred to a “Municipal Council” made up of residents appointed to govern until the regular council can be elected and takes office.
This Municipal Council includes one person as President, one executive member or two if municipalities have more than 100,000 inhabitants, and five additional citizens serving as aldermen and alderwomen.
PSYDEH, as an apolitical actor, but also civil society actor made up of citizens, is actively monitoring what electoral authorities at INE and the Electoral Institute of the State of Hidalgo IEEH do in the face of COVID-19. Our hope is that political parties will not unduly complicate matters. The local councils must act responsibly. If we do approach September 5 and new governments have not been transparently elected, citizens and community leaders must privilege the people over political party interests when facilitating this appointment process. We will continue to inform our local citizen partners and advise other civil society actors across the state to do the same.