Leftist seeks to void Mexico’s presidential election, again

Leftist seeks to void Mexico’s presidential election, again

(Reuters) – The runner-up in Mexico’s presidential race on Thursday filed suit before the country’s electoral court in a bid to void the results on charges the winner broke campaign finance laws and bought millions of votes.

Left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador came in 3.3 million votes behind Enrique Pena Nieto from the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), according to the official count from the July 1 vote.

But the former mayor of Mexico City, who lost the 2006 presidential race by a narrower margin, says the campaign was rigged, with major media outlets skewing coverage to promote the telegenic Pena Nieto at the expense of the other parties.

Lopez Obrador said he had proof Pena Nieto enlisted help from local governors to buy around 5 million votes by doling out pre-paid gift cards, cash, foodstuffs, building materials and fertilizer to lure poor voters to the ballot boxes.

“The massive vote buying operation was carried out before and on the day of the election,” Lopez Obrador told a news conference, adding he would next week unveil a “national plan for the defense of democracy and the dignity of Mexico.”

In 2006, Lopez Obrador also refused to accept his loss to President Felipe Calderon by less than 1 percentage point. Financial markets were rattled when his supporters staged weeks of disruptive protests, occupying the capital’s main boulevard.

This time markets have largely shrugged off the possibility of a drawn-out conflict and Pena Nieto is already naming advisers to work on his government’s transition.

Lopez Obrador stopped short of calling for protests and said his camp will argue before the electoral tribunal, known as the TRIFE, that the PRI broke the rules for free elections.

His lawyers filed their complaint with election officials Thursday evening, delivering dozens of boxes filled with documents, videos, photos as well as home appliances, clothes and kitchen utensils allegedly given away by the PRI campaign.

The TRIFE has until September 6 to consider all claims and officially declare a president-elect.

Pena Nieto, 45, is set to return the PRI to power after 12 years in opposition. The party ruled Mexico for seven decades straight and often turned to authoritarian tactics to stifle political rivals and rig elections.

Lopez Obrador said the party resorted to its old tricks after polls showed he was gaining ground late in the campaign and a student-led movement began to rally against Pena Nieto’s candidacy.

WAYWARD POLLS

Backed by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and a coalition of smaller left-wing parties, Lopez Obrador also claims the PRI pressured local officials to line up votes for the party in the many states where it holds power.

Ricardo Mejia, a spokesman for Lopez Obrador’s legal team, said the lawyers will present proof that Pena Nieto spent 4 billion pesos ($296.51 million) during the campaign, 12 times the legal limit of 330 million pesos.

The PRI denies the accusations and has filed a legal complaint against Lopez Obrador for making false statements.

PRI chairman Pedro Joaquin Coldwell said Lopez Obrador alienated many voters with his protests in 2006 and called him a “sore loser” who was backtracking on a promise made before the vote to accept the election results.

“We will prove the falsehood of his arguments,” Joaquin Coldwell told a news conference. “And demonstrate the legality of our triumph.”

Pena Nieto, the former governor of the State of Mexico, was pegged to win the race by double digits in opinion polls throughout. In the end, he won by about 6.6 percentage points and the PRI failed to clinch a majority in either the Senate or the lower house of Congress.

Lopez Obrador said the polls are a clear sign of the media propping up Pena Nieto’s campaign. At least one of the major pollsters has since admitted the readings were inaccurate.

Media reports pointed to the country’s largest broadcaster Televisa receiving payments to promote Pena Nieto when he was governor and openly opposing Lopez Obrador’s first presidential bid. Both the PRI and Televisa deny the claims.

Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN), whose candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota finished third, voiced concerns about vote buying and media manipulation but said it would not join forces with Lopez Obrador in his push to annul the results. ($1=13.4903 Mexican pesos)

(Writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Eric Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)

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Multan con casi 1.5 mdp a partidos de Movimiento Progresista por spot “Miles de pruebas”

Multan con casi 1.5 mdp a partidos de Movimiento Progresista por spot “Miles de pruebas” Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por SINEMBARGO.MX en la siguiente dirección: http://www.sinembargo.mx/16-08-2012/336172. Si está pensando en usarlo, debe considerar que está protegido por la Ley. Si lo cita, diga la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido. SINEMBARGO.MX

México, 16 Ago. (Notimex).- El Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE) sancionó a los partidos de la coalición Movimiento Progresista con un monto total de un millón 482 mil 420 pesos por la emisión del spot denominado “Miles de pruebas”. Durante una sesión extraordinaria en la que se discutieron varios asuntos relacionados con el controvertido anuncio, los consejeros acordaron multar al Movimiento Ciudadano con 431 mil 768 pesos, al Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) con 560 mil 108 pesos y al Partido del Trabajo (PT) con 490 mil 544. Al discutir una queja del Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) contra el mensaje emitido por los tres partidos, en donde el tricolor se queja de que está siendo difamado, los consejeros del IFE decidieron aplicar las sanciones. Aunque el dictamen original sugería declarar improcedente el recurso, el consejero presidente, Leonardo Valdés Zurita, indicó que como ya el Tribunal Electoral había decidido que se sacara del aire, porque sí calumnia al PRI y a su candidato presidencial, debería considerarse fundado y en su caso sancionar a los partidos. El representante del PRD, Camerino Márquez, argumentó que el spot sólo repite lo mismo que se ha venido denunciado en el debate público y forma parte de la libre expresión de los partidos políticos, por lo que la sanción es un exceso. El representante del PRI, Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, dijo que estas “frívolas piezas publicitarias” sí calumnian, como ya determinó el Tribunal Electoral. Antes los consejeros habían declarado infundada la queja que sobre este mismo anuncio y partidos presentó la periodista Carmen Aristegui, por considerar que al haberse usado su voz e imagen sin su permiso, la agraviaban en su prestigio. Luego de una larga discusión sobre el procedimiento, planteada por el consejero Marco Antonio Baños, quien sugería sobreseer el asunto, se decidió declararlo infundado, pero con un párrafo agregado a sugerencia del consejero Sergio García Ramírez. Este párrafo señala explícitamente que la periodista no queda en indefensión porque puede todavía recurrir a la vía civil para defenderse a través de la figura del daño moral. Posteriormente se discutieron sendas quejas sobre el mismo spot presentadas por Banco Monex y Soriana, donde la discusión se centró sobre si ya era cosa juzgada, porque ya se había sancionado a los partidos con base en la queja del PRI o bien se debería aplicar una nueva sanción. Al final se decidió declarar infundado el asunto aunque se agregaron los votos particulares de los consejeros Francisco Guerrero y María Marván. Este contenido ha sido publicado originalmente por SINEMBARGO.MX en la siguiente dirección: http://www.sinembargo.mx/16-08-2012/336172. Si está pensando en usarlo, debe considerar que está protegido por la Ley. Si lo cita, diga la fuente y haga un enlace hacia la nota original de donde usted ha tomado este contenido. SINEMBARGO.MX

Q&A: Mexico election result

Mr Pena Nieto is waiting to see if he will be declared president-elect

Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has been confirmed as the winner of Mexico’s presidential election, following a final recount.

But his nearest challenger, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has said that he will challenge the result in the electoral court.

So is Mr Pena Nieto Mexico’s president-elect?

Officially no. According to the Federal Code of Electoral Procedures and Institutions (Cofipe), all the challenges presented by the political parties must be resolved before a final result can be declared.

It is the role of the three judges who sit on the Federal Electoral Court (Trife), the maximum authority, to address the complaints and allegations regarding the election.

What did the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) rule on then?

The IFE counted votes cast on 1 July for president, 128 federal senators and 500 federal deputies. This included a partial recount. Results from 78,469 polling booths, more than half of the 143,000 installed for the election, were checked.

The final result after this gave Mr Pena Nieto 19.2m votes – 38.21% of the total. Mr Lopez Obrador was in second place with 15.9m votes – 31.59%. Third-placed Josefina Vazquez Mota of the National Action Party (PAN) had 12.8m votes – 25.41%.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Mr Lopez Obrador says he is preparing a legal challenge

What were the key allegations?

The Progressive Movement, a coalition of leftist parties that includes the PRD, and the PAN alleged that many voters received money or store cards in exchange for voting for Mr Pena Nieto and the PRI.

They also complained that some local authorities or PRI officials had pressured people to vote for the party.

The Progressive Movement has also called for an investigation into the alleged use of state government money to buy votes, via social programmes and distribution of food.

Mr Lopez Obrador has also alleged that Mr Pena Nieto spent more during the electoral campaign than allowed by law.

Mr Pena Nieto told the BBC he and his party had done nothing wrong and that he may sue his opponents over the allegations.

What will the Electoral Court consider?

The Electoral Court will examine the voting records from the electoral authorities, as well as details of the complaints and allegations presented by the political parties. Those wishing to challenge the result have until midnight local time on Thursday to do so.

The judges will rule whether the voting took place in accordance with electoral law, and whether the alleged irregularities would have changed the outcome. According to the law, the judges may decide to open ballot boxes that have not so far been checked.

Once the judges have conducted their review, they will rule on the validity of the election and declare who is the president-elect.

How long can this process take?

According to the federal code (Cofipe), the deadline for ruling on the electoral process and declaring a president-elect is 6 September.

LINK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-18773504

Mexicans challenge Pena Nieto’s victory in huge march

Mexicans challenge Pena Nieto’s victory in huge march

Tens of thousands of people in Mexico City are demonstrating against the result of the presidential election, which was won by Enrique Pena Nieto.

The demonstrators, who are not necessarily linked to any particular party, say the vote was not fair.

They accuse Mr Pena Nieto’s party, the PRI, of buying votes; some carried banners saying “Not another fraud”.

Mr Pena Nieto, whose victory was confirmed after a recount of nearly half the votes, denies the allegation.

The second-placed candidate in Mexico’s presidential election, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has said he will mount a legal challenge to the result.

He said he would prove that money was illicitly used to buy votes in the 1 July poll, so securing Mr Pena Nieto’s victory.

Supermarket votes

Six years ago, after losing the presidential election by a narrow margin, Mr Lopez Obrador led weeks of protests that caused disruption in central areas of Mexico City.

Mr Pena Nieto was confirmed the winner on Friday after a final recount, with 38.21% to Mr Lopez Obrador’s 31.59%.

Third-placed Josefina Vazquez Mota, from the National Action Party, has admitted defeat.

But the BBC’s Will Grant in Mexico City says there is a broad spread of people, not necessarily from the left, who feel that votes in their parts of Mexico were tampered with.

But Mr Lopez Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, said the election had been fraudulent and that he would file an appeal next week.

He accuses the party of Mr Pena Nieto, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, of paying for votes using gift cards for a supermarket chain.

Numerous videos have emerged of people claiming they received credit in exchange for voting for the PRI.

The party governed Mexico for 71 years until it was defeated in the 2000 presidential poll.

Irregularities reveal Mexico’s election far from fair | Mark Weisbro

Irregularities reveal Mexico’s election far from fair | Mark Weisbro

With Peña Nieto’s election marred by media bias and voter fraud, Mexico’s ailing economy is hobbled by democratic deficit

 

The media rewrites history every day, and in so doing, it often impedes our understanding of the present. Mexico’s presidential election of a week ago is a case in point. Press reports tell us that Felipe Calderón, the outgoing president from the PAN (National Action party), “won the 2006 election by a narrow margin”.

But this is not quite true, and without knowing what actually happened in 2006, it is perhaps more difficult to understand the widespread skepticism of the Mexican people toward the results of the current election. The official results show Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto winning 38.2% of the vote, to 31.6% for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and 25.4% for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the PAN. It does not help that the current election has been marred by widespread reports of vote-buying. From the Washington Post:

“‘It was neither a clean nor fair election,’ said Eduardo Huchim of the Civic Alliance, a Mexican watchdog group funded by the United Nations Development Program.

“‘This was bribery on a vast scale,’ said Huchim, a former [Federal Electoral Institute] official. ‘It was perhaps the biggest operation of vote-buying and coercion in the country’s history.'”

It may not have been enough to swing the presidential race, but for those who know what actually happened in 2006, the voters’ lack of faith in the results is completely understandable. The official margin of difference between Calderón and López Obrador of the PRD, who was also the PRD’s nominee in the 2006 election, was 0.58%. But there were massive irregularities.

The most prominent, which was largely ignored in the international press, was the “adding-up” problem at the majority of polling places. According to Mexico’s electoral procedures, each polling station gets a fixed number of blank ballots. After the vote, the number of remaining blank ballots plus the number of ballots cast are supposed to add up to the original blank ballots. For nearly half of polling places, this did not happen.

But it got worse than that: because of public pressure, the Mexican electoral authorities did two partial recounts of the vote. The second one was done for a huge sample: they recounted 9% of the ballots. But without offering any explanation, the electoral authorities refused to release the results of the recount to the public.

From 9-13 August 2006, the Mexican electoral authorities posted thousands of pages of results on the web ,which included the recounted ballot totals. It was then possible, with hundreds of hours of work, to piece together what happened in the recount and compare it to the previous results. At the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), we did this for a large random sample (14.4%) of the recounted ballots. Among these ballots, Calderón’s margin of victory disappeared.

This may explain why the electoral authorities never told the public what the recount showed, and why the authorities refused to do a full recount – which would have been appropriate for such a close election with so many irregularities. A full recount could easily have reversed the result, or found the election to be completely indeterminate.

At that time, I was struck by the lack of interest in the media as to either the “adding-up” problem, or the results of the recount. Both of these results were readily available on the web. Although it was laborious to tally the recount data, any news organization with a modicum of resources could have done the work. But none was interested.

López Obrador made the mistake of claiming that the 2006 election was stolen without demanding that the recount results be released – possibly, because he didn’t trust that these would be any more accurate than the original count. He did call attention to the adding-up problem, but the media ignored this and mostly portrayed him as a sore loser.

Both the 2006 and 2012 elections were manipulated in other ways. A study from the University of Texas shows that there was significant media bias against López Obrador in 2006, and that it was much more than enough to swing a close election. About 95% of broadcast TV is controlled by just two companies, Televisa and Azteca, and their hostility toward the PRD has been documented.

In the current presidential campaign, the media duopoly ran into criticism for not broadcasting nationally the first presidential debate on 6 May. After student protesters were dismissed in the media as outside agitators, a protest movement against the TV media was launched – called “Yosoy#132” (“I am #132”), after 131 of the initial protesters produced a viral video showing their student IDs (that is, to indicate that they were genuine students).

John Ackerman rightly criticized President Obama for congratulating Peña Nieto as the winner before the official results were in. This was similar to the Bush administration’s efforts to aid Calderón in 2006, which began immediately after the vote. The Calderón campaign to establish his “victory” as a fait accompli was modeled after the Bush team’s successful exploitation of its “home field advantage” in Florida in 2000, as chronicled in Jeffrey Toobin’s excellent book, Too Close to Call.

As I have noted previously, it is not because Mexico has a rightwing electorate that it has gone against the trend of the last 14 years in Latin America. One country after another (Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and others) has elected and re-elected left governments in response to Latin America’s worst long-term economic failure in more than a century (1980-2000). Although the rest of the region has done better over the past decade, Mexico has not.

Some have pointed out that the other left presidents in the Americas also faced hostile, biased media, and nonetheless won. This has certainly been true in all of the above-named countries; some, such as Bolivia, have even worse media bias than Mexico. But Mexico is, as the saying goes, “so far from God and so close to the United States”.

It is one thing to portray a leader of Ecuador or Bolivia as “another Hugo Chávez”, as the media campaigns there and elsewhere did. These candidates mostly laughed it off. But when the media in Mexico does the same to López Obrador – as it has been doing since 2006 – it has another meaning. Mexico shares a 2,000-mile border with the United States and sends 80% of its non-oil exports north. Not to mention the 12 million Mexicans living in the United States.

Mexico’s rightwing media are in a stronger position to boost an effective scare campaign. From Greece to Ireland to Mexico, that is how the elite maintains its grip on power in failing economies – not by offering hope, however tenuous, of a better future, but by spreading the fear that any attempt at a positive alternative will bring Armageddon.

So long as Mexico’s right controls the TV media – and can get some extra insurance by manipulating the electoral process as needed – Mexico will have a very limited form of democracy and will also fall far short of its economic potential.

• Editor’s note: the article originally stated that the 2006 “adding-up” problem applied in a majority of polling places; in fact, it did so in nearly half. This was amended at 4pm on 10 July 2012.

Chronology: Checkered history of the PRI’s rule in Mexico

Chronology: Checkered history of the PRI’s rule in Mexico

By Anahi Rama and Gabriel Stargardter

MEXICO CITY | Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:59pm EDT

(Reuters) – Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is favorite to win the presidential election on Sunday, offering a new start for a party that until 2000 held a 71-year grip on government with a mix of populism, patronage, corruption and repression.

The following chronology marks important moments in the PRI’s history since it first appeared in the years following the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century.

– March 4, 1929. Plutarco Elias Calles, who led the revolution in its final stages, founds the National Revolutionary Party (PNR), a predecessor of the PRI.

– March 18, 1938. Leftist President Lazaro Cardenas (1934-1940) nationalizes the oil industry and creates Pemex, a state-run monopoly to this day.

– March 30, 1938. The PNR changes its name to the Mexican Revolutionary Party (PRM).

– August 21, 1944. President Manuel Avila Camacho enacts a bill outlawing illiteracy, a key moment in Mexico’s modernization that led to major improvements in education.

– January 18, 1946. The PRM becomes the PRI, marking an end to military presidents.

– March 1947. President Miguel Aleman creates the Federal Security Directorate. Officially the national intelligence agency, in reality it served as a tool of repression.

– August 4, 1964. President Adolfo Lopez Mateos refuses to break ties with Fidel Castro’s Cuba, taking an independent posture toward the United States that would last decades.

– October 2, 1968. After student protests under President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, the army opens fire on demonstrators in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco district, killing dozens just days before the capital hosted the Olympic Games.

– June 10, 1971. Luis Echeverria is president during the so-called Corpus Christi massacre in which more protesters are shot dead, marking the beginning of a “dirty war” against dissenters.

– February 18, 1982. After profligate spending by President Jose Lopez Portillo, bankrolled by big oil revenues, Mexico is unprepared for a sudden drop in the price of crude, and has to sharply devalue the peso currency. Lopez Portillo nationalizes the banking sector.

– July 6, 1988. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, son of Lazaro Cardenas, runs for president in a leftist alliance against the PRI. After initial tallies suggest Cardenas may be winning, the government says the counting system has failed. Later the PRI candidate Carlos Salinas is declared the new president. The episode goes down as the PRI’s most notorious case of vote rigging.

– July 2, 1989. The PRI suffers its first ever defeat in a state election when Ernesto Ruffo of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) is elected governor of Baja California.

– January 1, 1994. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) comes into effect for Mexico. That same day in the poor southern state of Chiapas, an indigenous rebellion breaks out led by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.

– March 23, 1994. PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio is assassinated in Tijuana. Authorities attribute the murder to a lone killer, but doubts persist to this day. Ernesto Zedillo assumes the candidacy and wins the July election.

– September 28, 1994. Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the PRI’s secretary general, is murdered. Police later arrest Raul Salinas, the outgoing president’s brother, accusing him of masterminding the killing. Raul Salinas is eventually found guilty and serves 10 years in prison.

– December 1994. Shortly after Zedillo takes over from Salinas, Mexico has to devalue the currency. It sparks a major economic and financial crisis requiring an emergency U.S. loan. The “Tequila Crisis” ripples across Latin America.

– July 1997. The PRI loses its majority in Congress in mid-term elections. No party has had one since.

– 1999. Zedillo forgoes his prerogative to name the PRI’s next presidential candidate and institutes a national primary.

– July 2, 2000. The PRI loses a presidential election for the first time, to Vicente Fox of the PAN.

– 2005. A series of state election defeats leaves the PRI in control of only half of Mexico’s 31 states.

– July 2, 2006. A divided PRI suffers its worst ever presidential election defeat, trailing in a distant third as the PAN’s Felipe Calderon wins. The defeat was the PRI’s lowest point but it then begins to regain strength as Calderon’s government struggles.

– July 5, 2009. After big gains in mid-term elections the PRI becomes the dominant party in the lower house of Congress.

(Reporting by Anahi Rama and Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Daniel Trotta, Kieran Murray and Vicki Allen)