Authorities began Wednesday to recount ballots in a key gubernatorial election in the Mexican state of Baja California after preliminary results were scrapped due to a technical glitch. The result of the election in the state, which borders the United States, could have an impact on national politics, with analysts saying that a defeat for the conservative National Action Party (PAN) may threaten a multi-party reform pact. Helga Casanova, spokeswoman for the Baja California Electoral Institute, told AFP that the recount may last until Sunday but that it could be completed before then.
For the last month Gibson Severe and his wife, Merjury Severe, known opposition supporters from Hurungwe district in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West Province, have been hiding out in the country’s capital Harare. The Movement for Democratic Change – Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) supporters were forced to flee their rural home in Hurungwe district after Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) militias threatened them for encouraging people to participate in the recently-ended mobile voter registration. “It’s been a month since we left Hurungwe district after the Jochomondo militia, which has known links to Zanu-PF, besieged our rural home accusing us of encouraging people to register to vote for the MDC-T,” Gibson Severe told IPS. Since last year, the Jochomondo militia has allegedly terrorised residents in Zimbabwe’s northern Hurungwe district, a Zanu-PF-stronghold, making it almost impossible for opposition parties to campaign in the region.
Leaders of the Mexican left called Friday for a peaceful popular mobilization to annul the July 1 presidential election amid allegations of vote-buying and other machinations by the victorious Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. “We are asking that the presidential election be invalidated because there are very serious violations of the constitution,” the leftist standard-bearer in the contest, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said at a press conference in Mexico City. “We will always act peacefully,” he said at the presentation of the National Plan for Defense of Democracy and the Dignity of Mexico.
A recount on Thursday showed Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto as the clear winner of Sunday’s presidential election, but the runner-up still refused to concede, alleging Pena Nieto’s party bought millions of votes. The results set up a return to power for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000, when it was frequently accused of vote-rigging. With 99 percent of polling stations counted or recounted, Pena Nieto held 38.2 percent of the vote, 6.7 points ahead of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, expected to conclude the final recount later on Thursday and certify the results on Sunday, when an official count of the congressional elections was also due.
Electoral authorities in Mexico have initiated a recount of roughly half of the votes cast in the presidential election upon finding inconsistencies in the final results. The initial tally, accounting for 99 percent of the votes, was released Sunday, the day of the election, showing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto in the lead with roughly 38 percent of the votes, about six points ahead of runner-up and Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Votes from about 78,000 of the 143,000 polling stations used in the election will be recounted. The results of the recount are expected to be ready by Sunday, Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) spokeswoman Ana Fuentes told the Associated Press.
Mexico’s presidential election runner-up, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said on Tuesday he would ask the country’s election authorities to recount the votes from Sunday’s contest, saying it was riddled with fraud. Lopez Obrador, who finished about 6.5 percentage points behind President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), said the process had been corrupted by PRI vote buying and other abuses, and that his campaign would ask the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) to recount the votes.
Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) is poised to regain the power it lost 12 years ago after seven decades in charge of the country. The official quick count of a large sample of polling stations announced late on Sunday gave the PRI’s candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, around 38% of the vote and a lead of around seven percentage points over his nearest rival. “This Sunday Mexico won”, Peña Nieto said at his party’s headquarters in the capital to the strains of a popular mariachi song, accompanied by his soap opera star wife and children. “Mexico voted for change with direction,” he added. During his speech, the slick, telegenic former governor of the country’s most populous state was at pains to address fears that the return of the PRI would mean a return to the periodic authoritarianism, corruption and corporatist hubris that had characterised the party’s political hegemony for most of the last century. “Mine will be a democratic presidency. We are a new generation and there will not be a return to the past,” he said. “In today’s plural and democratic Mexico everybody has a place.”
What is in an election? As Mexico gears up for Sunday’s presidential vote, much of the chatter has centred on the possible return of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) under Enrique Peña Nieto, its candidate and far-away favourite, according to opinion polls. And with little wonder: when the party finally lost power in 2000 after ruling for 71 consecutive years of pseudo democracy, many political analysts predicted that the party would shrivel and die as the country embraced a new, more pluralistic future. But let’s step back a moment from the constant questions of “will a PRI victory mean a return to the past?” and consider the political and economic stability that this election season offers investors compared with six years ago. Back then, investors were scrambling to put their business plans on hold as many doubted whether the centre-right Felipe Calderón could catch up with and overhaul the fiery front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the leftwing Democratic Revolution (PRD).
A secretive unit inside Mexico’s predominant television network set up and funded a campaign for Enrique Peña Nieto, who is the favourite to win Sunday’s presidential election, according to people familiar with the operation and documents seen by the Guardian. The new revelations of bias within Televisa, the world’s biggest Spanish-language broadcaster, challenge the company’s claim to be politically impartial as well as Peña Nieto’s insistence that he never had a special relationship with Televisa. The unit – known as “team Handcock”, in what sources say was a Televisa codename for the politician and his allies – commissioned videos promoting the candidate and his PRI party and rubbishing the party’s rivals in 2009. The documents suggest the team distributed the videos to thousands of email addresses, and pushed them on Facebook and YouTube, where some of them can still be seen. The nature of the relationship between Peña Nieto and Televisa has been a key issue in Sunday’s election since the development in May of a student movement focused on perceived media manipulation of public opinion in the candidate’s favour. Televisa refused to comment on the specifics of the documents but denied suggestions it had favoured the PRI, saying it had done political work for all the major parties.
With presidential and local elections slightly more than two weeks away, violence _ some of it political, some of it part of a raging drug war _ is surging in Mexico, with candidates killed, journalists snatched and major arrests threatening to touch off a wave of reprisals. And in a sign of the profound corruption that a new president will face, a video released this week shows police officers marching men from a hotel in the middle of the night. The men turned up dead the next day, the police suspected of acting on orders from drug gangs. In the coastal state of Veracruz, the body of reporter Victor Baez was discovered early Thursday in the main plaza of the state capital, Xalapa, hours after gunmen intercepted him as he left his newsroom.
Only 12 years ago Mexican voters kicked out the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had ruled for seven decades through a mixture of consent, co-option, corruption and coercion. Vicente Fox, a former Coca-Cola salesman who defeated the PRI, brought high hopes that his country would match the economic promise of the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), between Mexico, the United States and Canada, with a correspondingly vibrant democracy. Yet unless the opinion polls are wildly wrong, Mexicans are about to vote the PRI back to power on July 1st, in the person of Enrique Peña Nieto. Aged 45, the telegenic Mr Peña cuts a seemingly fresh figure, with his team of bright technocrats from the world’s best universities. Yet he is a scion of the PRI’s most retrograde regional political machine. His allies include several old-fashioned caudillos, and his opponents say (though he denies) that he has engaged in old-fashioned practices, such as buying favourable television coverage (see article). Why is Mexico poised to take this apparently backward step? The answer starts with the disappointments of the past dozen years of rule by the conservative National Action Party (PAN), first under Mr Fox and then Felipe Calderón. Buffeted by Chinese competition and then by the American recession, the economy grew at an annual average rate of just 1.8% between 2000 and 2011. Poverty has edged up, not helped by the woes of the broader world economy. Lacking both a congressional majority and negotiating skills, neither president managed much in the way of structural reforms, leaving more or less intact the PRI’s legacy of public and private monopolies that stifle the economy and the education system. Mr Calderón chose to make security and battling powerful drug mafias the centrepiece of his presidency. Yet, with 60,000 dead, Mexicans are tiring of a “drug war” they at first supported.
For seven decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party ruled Mexico by hook or by crook, stuffing ballot boxes, massacring democracy protesters and bribing journalists into providing sycophantic coverage. When it finally lost a presidential election for the first time, in 2000, the atmosphere was reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin wall. But now the party, universally known in Mexico as PRI, its Spanish initials, is on the brink of a triumphant comeback, with its youthful candidate for July’s presidential polls, Enrique Peña Nieto, enjoying a consistent lead of around 20 points over his nearest challenger. In the race for congress, the PRI, buoyed by its alliance with Mexico’s controversial, death penalty-supporting Green party, is close to winning 50 per cent of the lower house. That would be the chamber’s first outright majority in some 15 years, giving Mr Peña Nieto, a 45-year-old former governor of the massive state of Mexico, which includes much of Mexico City, more power than any president has had since the early 1990s.