Congress

A Matter of Trust - The July 5 Mexican Legislative Elections

A Three Part Series Part 1

In the wake of Felipe Calderon’s surprising electoral win over Andrés Manual Lopez-Obrador in 2006 Presidential Elections, demonstrators protesting alleged election fraud occupied the center of Mexico City from July through December. On three occasions, crowds of over one million were reported. Image: Erasmo Lopez

Michael Collins and Kenneth Thomas

"Se requiere que las ciudadanos no estén ausentes ante una clase política que, desde el punto de vista ciudadano, no ha respondido y claramente ha fallado," dijo el Presidente de la República. Sociedad civil confronta a los poderes de la Unión El Universal, June 25, 2009

Translation: "It is necessary that the citizens not be seated behind a political class which, from the citizen’s point of view, clearly has failed," said the President of the Republic. (President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon El Universal, June 25, 2009)

"Independent analysis of the early vote reports indicated that there was little relationship between actual precinct totals and those reported by the Federal Electoral Institute, the IFE.  .  .  .  A graph of the initial results also revealed an odd statistical curve that looked more like the result of a computer algorithm rather than real vote totals."

Every once in a while, a politician tells the unvarnished truth. It's difficult to recall the last time it happened. Outgoing president Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1961 warning of the dangers of the U.S. military-industrial complex comes to mind. Ike told the truth but too late to matter since he was leaving power. President Calderon is just three years into his six year term as President of Mexico. Just two days prior to Calderon's statement, Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (ALMO), Calderon's opponent in the bitterly contested 2006 presidential election, had filed a complaint against the media conglomerate owned television network, Televisa. Obrador argued that Televisa has shown extraordinary bias against his party, the PRD. Candidates are entitled to make complaints about biased coverage to the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) created as part of Mexico's 1990 election reform law. Obrador said:

"I stand in front of you because you are the owners of Televisa and because you form part of the power elite in Mexico.

"I have considered... that you may disagree with my certainty that the national tragedy is the fault of a group which is guilty of acquiring enormous wealth through the employment of public power, and at the cost of suffering for the majority of the Mexican people." El Universal, June 23, 2009

ALMO's point reflects the fact that Televisa is owned and run by one of the twenty families, the wealthiest people in Mexico who dominate the political and economic life of Mexicans.

As their parties approach the 2009 legislative elections, the opponents from the bitterly contested 2006 presidential election seem to suddenly agree. Calderon's "political class," which he says has failed the people, rules "at the bequest of" Mexico's narrow moneyed elite, the class that the "leftist" Lopez-Obrador is accusing of biased coverage in the congressional campaign.

In the speech quoted in the opening of this article, Calderon admits "that the situation in place in matters of security and justice "is, without doubt, a consequence of many of our omissions, of indolence, of corruption, of illegality and of impunity' "June 25, 2009.

"Who can the Mexican people trust?”

The 2006 Mexican presidential election set the stage for this year's July 5 national election for Mexico's bicameral Congress of the Union consisting of the Chamber of Representatives (500 members) and the Senate (128 members). As of June 25, 2009, the two major candidates for president in 2006 see the election system as biased and flawed. ALMO's affirmation is explicit and Calderon says that the problems are related to class issues.

Numerous irregularities in 2006 raised suspicions. ALMO ran an effective campaign and was expected to win. Independent analysis of the early vote reports indicated that there was little relationship between actual precinct totals and those reported by the Federal Electoral Institute, the IFE.

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