|(Photo Credit: AFP)|
Maria Elena Enríquez, FDA Researcher with a background in political science and international relations and Mexican citizen, shares her opinion on the 2012 Mexican election results (from the July 1st election). Maria shares a pragmatic perspective on Mexico's challenges, and astutely emphasizes the need for citizen empowerment (rather than dependency on government and corporations).
Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) Return to Power
"It was not one person or a party who won, it was Mexico!" Those were the words uttered on July 1st, 2012, a few minutes after the preliminary data was published after the presidential elections, when Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate of the (PRI), was proclaimed the winner.
The PRI won with 38.21% of the votes over 31.59% for the left-wing party’s candidate, Andrés Manuel López of the Obrador Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD). The candidate of the current ruling party, Partido Accion Nacional, Josefina Vazquez Mota, came in third with a 25.41% of the votes. Quadri of Nueva Alianza (NA), managed to get just 2.29% of the votes, but over the 2% needed to keep NA’s registry as a political party, which was basically his only real goal. 1
According to statements by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), participation in the Mexican Election was 62% (about 49 million voters), the highest in the country's history, and there were 50% fewer irregularities than in other recent elections.
The truth is that there were irregularities, and people alleged millions of votes were bought by all political parties, but mainly the PRI. (Documents presented at an important News network showed the purchase of prepaid electronic cards from the mass retailer Soriana, allegedly used to encourage votes for the PRI. At least 5 billion pesos (around 350 million CAN) in food and benefits cards were paid out between 2009 and 2012 which led to the election’s vote re-count, after which the same results were given. 2
The university movement # YoSoy132 (#I am 132) did not accept the Election results and formally defined "rejection of the process of imposing the candidate Enrique Peña Nieto on the office of the Presidency of the Republic." The interuniversity assembly document concluded that the election period was a "tainted source" characterized by "undemocratic practices", that election officials were "deliberately unable" to attend, which led "the essence of free suffrage" to be altered the day of election. 3
The strongest complaints were from the left party’s candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who called the election “fraudulent”. Despite the confirmed PRI’s triumph after the re-counting of the votes, Lopez Obrador will challenge the election before the Electoral Tribunal of Judicial Power of the Federation, arguing the allowed campaign expenditures were exceeded as well as the use of surveys with media bias in propaganda, among other things. He said he has evidence to present and will ask the PAN for an alliance as to present together a request for a deeper investigation.
Despite the allegations and complaints, the PRI is now the ruling party and that probably will not change. However, the PRI won without the expected margin of victory, and the party did not win the required majority in the Congress, which is two-thirds. It was the left party which obtained the second majority of senators and deputies, along with a victory of over 40% more support than the PRI in Mexico City, making the PRD the second political force in Mexico.
Meanwhile, the Mexican democratic right wing suffered a historic defeat which will be hard to recover from. Not only is the PAN leaving the presidency, but it has also lost presence in some key States such as Jalisco, where they ruled for 18 years. President Calderon’s administration numbers -12 million more poor people than before taking office, a growth on informal employment, minimal economic growth and thousands of deaths in the war against drug trafficking, was too much of a burden for PAN’s presidential candidate, a candidate who besides the burden, committed numerous errors during the campaign. 4
Thus we can say that the Mexican voters did not give their total trust to the PRI, who won by 6 percentage points and will not have a majority in the Congress. The citizens knew how to punish an administration that was not popular, by taking the presidency away from the PAN. The voters rewarded those who were perceived as good administrations, such as was the case in Mexico City, and they differentiated local and federal candidates regardless of the party.
Peña Nieto will have to understand that society can stand up for itself to be heard. Despite the extensive media that was biased and manipulative, without incumbency results there will be no re-election. Peña Nieto must show the ability to both talk and govern in a democracy. Hence, the administrative efficiency and structural reforms must develop new mechanisms of citizen inclusion. 5
The PRI should be aware and act regarding two realities: they have been elected by a minority of citizens (38% of the voters) and there are doubts and fears about the path that they will take as they assume the Presidency: the restoration of the old regime or the continuation of the reform. The new president should show that his government will continue with the process of strengthening Mexican democracy.
the triumph of Peña Nieto will bring stability to the financial and corporate sectors, but we can’t forget the historic anti-democratic spirit of the PRI, responding to various interests, such as those of large corporate unions in the country, who are corrupt and have greatly damaged the country’s economy, and Televisa, the largest television network in Mexico.
On issues that concern Mexicans the most, Peña Nieto has given some proposals that lack details. For example on violence, he has proposed to lower the crime rates "soon", but the ideas he has presented would actually take effect at least in the medium term, and that is assuming they will actually work. Some of his proposals are to form a national gendarmerie, to increase the size of the Federal Police, to increase intelligence agencies capabilities, to consolidate the reform of the criminal justice system, (which would take the remainder of the decade at least), etc.
I personally doubt that the voters will have the patience to wait for these changes. Calderon's war will become Peña Nieto’s war: the dead, kidnapped and extorted people will begin to add up on Peña Nieto’s account, and he will face an added difficulty: the federal government will now be able to argue that the responsibility for safety and the presence of violence lies partially on the PRI states’ governments. Today part of the electorate makes the distinction between federal and local, and therefore praise and blame is divided between the two. The new government will not have the luxury of avoiding local blame because the PRI now controls 23 governorships; so almost everything politicians do or stop doing at the local level will fall into the PRI’s hands and, by association, to Peña Nieto’s government. 6
The return of the party that ran Mexico for seven uninterrupted decades is not welcomed by everyone. Mexico is waiting to see what the new government will start doing as of December the 1st. Peña Nieto has said that his victory is a second chance for the PRI, and he has promised to govern with and for all, with a modern and democratic presidency. If there will be a different government than the one of the old PRI or not, is something we will only be able to tell with time. However, something we should be clear about after all these years, is that no president alone will achieve resolving the problems that affect Mexico the most. So we must build informed citizenship and fight for change, aiming to achieve a democracy that goes beyond the electoral level.
1. IFE: http://computos2012.ife.org.mx/reportes/presidente/distritalPresidenteEF.html 2. Aristegui Noticias 06-07-101
3. Animal Político 05-07-2012: http://www.animalpolitico.com/animal-electoral/2012/07/05/no-se-aceptara-la-imposicion-de-pena-nieto-yosoy132/
4. Peña Nieto se proclama nuevo presidente de México
5. Cullen, Alejandra: Muera el rey! Ciudadanosenred: http://ciudadanosenred.com.mx/articulos/¡muera-el-rey
6. Animal Político 03-07-2012: http://www.animalpolitico.com/blogueros-plata-o-plomo/2012/07/03/en-otras-noticias