MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's lower house of Congress approved an alternative overhaul of electoral laws early Wednesday, just hours after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's initial, more ambitious bill failed to win the two-thirds majority it needed.
The so-called "plan B", which would shrink the budget of the national electoral authority (INE) and water down its faculties, has drawn heated criticism from opposition lawmakers, who fear the changes would give too much power to the government.
Lawmakers approved the bill in a fast-track vote requiring only a simple majority, because in contrast to the other plan, the proposals did not envisage constitutional changes.
The legislation now moves to the Senate, which like the lower house is controlled by the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and its allies, who argue the changes save public money and curb the influence of money in politics.
Opposition politicians argue the bill is an attempt to meddle in the 2024 presidential election process, when Lopez Obrador's successor will be chosen. He denies this.
Jesus Ortega, a former head of the center-left opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Lopez Obrador's campaign manager during his failed 2006 presidential bid, argued "plan B" was unconstitutional and would be challenged in court.
MORENA's Senate leader Ricardo Monreal, who has increasingly taken up positions at odds with the president, said the initiative would be considered more slowly in the upper chamber.
"We're going to give it the right pace," he said in an interview with Radio Formula. "The Senate will act with serenity and good judgment, taking care of legal procedures."
(Reporting by Sarah Morland; editing by Diane Craft)