An accused rapist who was disqualified from contesting the gubernatorial race in Guerrero because he failed to report his pre-campaign spending to electoral authorities has threatened to stop the June 6 elections from happening in his home state unless he is allowed to run.
“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections. If we are not on the ballot, there won’t be any elections,” said Félix Salgado, a federal senator on leave and former mayor of Acapulco who was selected as the candidate for the ruling Morena party despite accusations of rape by several women and widespread opposition to his candidacy.
“Raise your hand, he who says there will be no elections if we’re not on the ballot,” Salgado instructed loyal supporters at an event in Iguala, Guerrero, on Sunday.
His threat to prevent elections in the southern state is “entirely believable,” the Associated Press reported, noting that Guerrero is a violence-plagued state with a patchwork of drug gangs, vigilantes and militant farm groups that sometimes overlap. The news agency also noted that elections have been partially disrupted in Guerrero in the past and that many former governors have been ousted before ending their terms.
Salgado, who was stripped of his candidacy by the National Electoral Institute (INE) in late March, guaranteed that a protest he is leading at the INE offices in Mexico City will be peaceful, asserting that his supporters are not armed with any items that could allow it to turn violent, such as sticks and drums of gasoline.
The Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF) has ordered the INE to reformulate its sanctions against both Salgado and Raúl Morón, Morena’s candidate for governor in Michoacán who was also barred from contesting the elections because he failed to report pre-campaign spending. Both men called on members of the INE general council to meet immediately to reassess the decision to bar them from contesting the elections although the council won’t convene until Tuesday.
Electoral councilor José Roberto Ruiz Saldaña said on Twitter that the general council members will meet at 6:00 p.m. that day, the same time at which the TEPJF deadline expires.
A decision to reinstate Salgado’s candidacy will likely trigger more protests against the 64-year-old, who has denied the rape accusations through his lawyer and via President López Obrador, who has claimed that the allegations are politically motivated.
Facing intense pressure to dump the candidate, including from within the ruling party, Morena conducted a new selection process last month but subsequently confirmed that Salgado would be its representative in the election.
However, that plan was scuttled by the INE’s March 25 ruling against Salgado and Morón, as well as against many candidates for mayor and federal deputy positions.
Meanwhile, INE president Lorenzo Córdova on Sunday enumerated changes that have been made to the voting process and to ballots in recent years and decades to ensure that elections are free and fair. An INE-accredited ballot is “irrefutable and tangible proof” that speaking of electoral fraud in Mexico today “is not supported,” he said in a video message posted to social media.
Córdova said that the INE — as the organizer and “neutral umpire” of the elections — will guarantee the transparency and fairness of the process in strict accordance with the law.
Although on Sunday he expressed confidence in the INE’s capacity to organize free and fair elections, Córdova said in earlier remarks that democracy itself in the country is not currently in good shape. Speaking at a seminar on education policy in Mexico last Friday, the INE president said that growing polarization and disinformation, as well as democratically-elected governments’ failure to fulfill promises, pose a threat.
“Democracy is not enjoying a good moment, and it’s not a new thing,” Córdova said, adding that high levels of intolerance don’t help the democratic system.
He also said that widespread poverty and inequality are not conducive to generating confidence in democracy.
Referring to the most recent National Survey of Civic Culture, developed by the INE and the national statistics agency, Inegi, which found that four in 10 Mexicans wouldn’t mind having a government led by the military, the INE president said the finding that almost 53% of people are very or somewhat satisfied with democracy is “not bad” but not cause for great celebration either.
He also noted that one in six respondents said that an autocratic government might be better than a democratic one in some circumstances.
“Careful with that,” Córdova said.