Dirty election coming? One analyst thinks so

'This could be the worst election since democratic races were born'

Is Mexico in for a really dirty presidential election in 2018?

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Some political analysts believe so with one even going as far as to say that next year’s race could be the worst ever, a bold claim considering what has happened in past elections.

In 1994, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated while on the campaign trail in Tijuana.

In the 1988 election officially won by Carlos Salinas de Gortari, PRI officials later admitted that the vote was shut down when opposition candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas was in front, with the explanation given that “the system crashed.”

During the presidency of Vicente Fox— the first non-PRI administration in over seven decades — it was revealed that the Pemex workers’ union had diverted 500 million pesos to PRI candidate Francisco Labastida in the lead-up to the 2000 election in a scandal known as Pemexgate.

And the 2006 election — in which serial candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador made his first run at the presidency — was plagued by controversy due to the closeness of the vote and alleged irregularities in the counting process.

AMLO, as López Obrador is commonly known, claimed fraud and challenged the legitimacy of the election of Felipe Calderón by leading mass protests that brought parts of the capital to a standstill for months.

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But despite the deeply troubling precedents, a political scientist at the Tecnológico de Monterrey university said that “this could be the worst election since democratic races were born.”

“If we look at what the federal government and political parties have already done, as well as some electoral authorities, we have no reason to be optimistic,” Jesús Cantú told Bloomberg.

The federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) fired its top electoral crimes prosecutor, Santiago Nieto, in October amid speculation that the cause of his dismissal was speaking out about a corruption scandal involving former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya.

Apart from claims that he accepted bribes, Lozoya has also been accused of diverting funds to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2012 campaign.

The dismissal of prosecutor Nieto weakens the agency’s capacity to crack down on vote-buying, according to Kenneth Greene, a Mexican election analyst at the University of Texas.

Greene said that the practice — with which the PRI is most often associated — is likely to be “bigger than ever in 2018” and there is evidence that it has already started.

In addition, the Special Prosecutor for Electoral Crimes (Fepade) — a division of the PGR charged with overseeing the electoral process — is underfunded, according to a report by Bloomberg, after Congress recently cut its budget by 300 million pesos (US $16 million).

The independence of Nieto’s replacement, Héctor Marcos Diaz, has also been questioned in some quarters.

López Obrador, a controversial and divisive figure, has consistently led polls and has been openly campaigning for the presidency in apparent defiance of laws that stipulate a strict electoral timetable.

His past refusals to accept election results could augur trouble again if he doesn’t achieve the result he hopes for and expects.

The National Action Party (PAN) has also been accused of improper campaign practices despite its former president and expected candidate Ricard Anaya presenting himself as a clean candidate who will stamp out the corruption scourge.

Parties’ spending on advertising is another potentially messy, corruptible and controversial area.

The PRI has an advantage insofar as it can access government coffers to pay for advertising expenses, but Fepade found that in the Coahuila election held earlier this year the party had spent twice the legal amount, grounds for annulling the vote.

However, the agency’s audit was twice overturned by the Federal Election Tribunal, suggesting political interference.

Former chief electoral prosecutor Luis Carlos Ugalde said that all parties are buying media space, sometimes with cash under the table.

Despite its spending advantage, the PRI is deeply unpopular: a poll earlier this year showed that 80% of people believed that it was time for the ruling party to go.

The party has made an attempt to throw off its corruption-tainted image by anointing untarnished former finance secretary José Antonio Meade as its candidate but a recent poll showed that he was in third place, with just 16% of support.

An added complication to the electoral process is that Mexico is suffering from a sharp spike in violent crime that will almost certainly make 2017 the most violent in Mexico since record-keeping began two decades ago. If next year’s election is close and contentious, as many expect, some analysts fear that political clashes could unleash more violence.

Even interference in the election through hacking by a foreign government or the PRI is possible, according to the director of the Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute in Houston.

“I don’t think the PRI is above manipulating the election, not just by buying votes in the streets but by tapping into the computers,” Tony Payan said.

As precedents show, it wouldn’t be the first time foul play has entered a Mexican election.

Source: Bloomberg (en)

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  • Güerito

    By my count all four experts cited in this article think a dirty election is coming.

    Why say “one analyst” thinks so??

  • From South of the Border

    I expect the establishment will do anything they have to do to deny Amlo the presidency, even, if it means killing him in the process! Corruption is the main product here in Mexico with most of the Mexican people not caring only complaining like a bunch of babies after the fact! The thing that is wrong here isn’t the politicians or the government it is the vast majority of the Mexican people who complain, but do nothing and will do nothing, because they have no GUTS!! Until someone stands up and is willing to risk everything the corruption and violence will continue forever!!

    • Dave Warren

      Yup! No one is willing to put their life on the line. Unfortunately it is personal sacrifice we are talking about. No one will do it and if you do …the odds are very good you will lose your life. Keep your head down and go on like everything is fine instead. It isn’t my country though.

      • From South of the Border

        Hi Dave, I’m a permanent resident here in Mexico, but in the end it isn’t my country either, but if Mexicans really love their country one of these days they are going to have to show it or all the noise about corruption is just that noise!! Mexicans love to complain it is almost a national pastime like baseball or football is back home! As I have told most of my Mexican friends I don’t want to hear it anymore, put up or SHUT UP!! The same old same old is BORING!! Not My Problem!!

  • I vote. What’s the best offer?

  • Mike S

    Sad state of affairs but not as bad as having Vladimir Putin install your president.

    • faithandhonor

      You mean he rigged his own election in Russia?

      • Mike S

        Collusion will be almost impossible to prove, but most past intelligence heads and FBI consensus overwhelmingly concludes that Putin interfered in our election big-time on the side of Agent Orange. Trump came out against NATO, against green/clean/alternative energy, for Assad, lifting Russian sanctions, for Brexit, praised Putin regularly, and Putin had a long acrimonious history with Clinton. Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million and lost the electoral college in 3 states by 70k out of 12 million votes cast-
        numbers within the range of Russian influence. But I think the biggest reason Putin worked overtime to help Agent Orange was because he realized what an utter narcissistic, unread, unqualified, pathological lying, bigoted, vindictive, divisive buffoon he was who would be the laughing stock of our allies and would hand over Syria to him on a silver platter. For a small investment Putin is getting big returns. Without seeing Agent orange’s tax returns, we have no idea how much he may owe Putin’s crony gangster billionaires. Does the “pissing tape” exist- is Putin able to blackmail Agent Orange…no one knows but those are scary thoughts. Two flawed candidates- one much worse than the other. Give Trump time, he will eventually destroy the economy, destroy the health care system, raise racial tensions, degrade NATO, set back wind/solar/electric vehicles, wreck NAFTA, turn the entire Middle East against us, and hand over the Ukraine…all in Putin’s interest. Oh but I forgot, it was those millions of undocumented residents who illegally voted for Clinton that won her the popular vote and it’s so nice to have a president who was born in the US and not Kenya.

        • faithandhonor

          Poor guy, I see you have a serious case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. I suggest you seek treatment.

          • Mike S

            I am in treatment. I have shifted from voting independent and plan on voting the straight Democratic ticket in California as a cure like 70% of other Americans will be doing next November.

  • Güerito

    Latest poll, Dec. 21st:

    AMLO/Morena – 42%; Anaya/Frente 32%; Meade/PRI 26%

    http://www.parametria.com.mx/carta_parametrica.php?cp=5014

  • Jeff Swanson

    Confused ? Dirty election vs Dirty Sanchez ? OR is a guy named Sanchez even in the race? LOL !!!

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