Mexico Election Results Show Growing Distance Between Politicians and People
Low Voter Turn Out, and Lack of Faith in the Nation's Political Parties Benefits the PRI; Abstention Reached 55 Percent and Another 5 Percent Voted - voto nulo
By Nancy Davies
Commentary from Oaxaca
July 7, 2009
The morning after the national elections for representatives to the Mexican congress along with a handful of state governors, I went up to the neighborhood newsstand where papers hang with clothespins like laundry in the sunshine. On the left, Noticias headlined “Abstentions won more than the parties”, while the right/government papers proclaimed “The PRI wins”.
Both headlines are true. Outside each polling place tallies are posted, with signatures of the poll-officials who did the counting. The small polling station across from the newsstand registered a total of 638 votes, and of those, 56 were for the voto nulo (none of the above) and 36 for independent write-in candidates. The total of 92 represents 14.4% of votes cast. The National Action Party (PAN, in its Spanish initials),winners (at this one voting place) received a total of 153, while the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI , got 139. This neighborhood is not affluent, neither is it brutally impoverished.
The big winner, according to the Federal Election Institute (IFE in its Spanish initials), in the eleven districts of Oaxaca, was the PRI; it also won big all across the nation. The resurgence of the PRI signifies, according to some analysts, the death knell for the PAN, which under Calderon’s leadership has ruled over a catastrophic drug war, a large loss of jobs, and a decline in gross national product. For Oaxaca, a PRI win signifies “more of the same only worse.”
According to columnist Federico Arreola:
“The Pan propaganda asked the people, with some insistence, to vote for the party of Felipe Calderón, the “president” who is really fighting the narcos, in this way turning back the delinquents, that is to say, the PRI. This Sunday we learned that the people trust the delinquents more than the laughable Eliot Ness of Los Pinos. Therefore, if the citizens of México voted mostly for the lifelong bandits it is undoubtedly due to the desperation provoked by the worst government in memory.”
Participation of voters nationally reached 44.71%; abstention reached 55.29 %. That figure represents about 43 million people who didn’t show up to vote. The PRI moves up to strongest, the PAN drops to second place, the PRD is third, the Workers Party (PT) is fourth and the fifth force is the voto nulo. The Socialist Workers Party has lost its formal recognition due to its weak showing. The Green Party, in Mexico an arm of the PAN, picked up the votes which the PAN apparently lost. PT and Convergencia received enough votes to keep their registration, so they can compete in the presidential elections of 2012.
The Federal Election Institute’s spokesperson Alfredo Figueroa added that the voto nulo and those who favored it was to show that society has another opinion. But how that will play out is yet to be seen. “Historically the vote in terms of annulled ballots is 3.4- 3.5 %; this time it was 5.2 % or maybe a little more for this movement”, the spokesperson said. “There was less abstention and more of the voto nulo“.
The Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) whose leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was pushed out by a PRI gang (called the chuchos), nevertheless managed to achieve a victory in the huge Mexico City district of Iztapalapa, one of the most heavily populated zones with great political strength by sheer numbers and political solidarity. Out of nowhere, López Obrador promoted Rafael Acosta, “Juanito”, who not only won the election for delegate (representative) chief from Iztapalapa, but also surged from being unknown two weeks ago, to becoming one of the most popular figures in the country. In Iztapalapa, AMLO beat the chuchos. The chucho dominated PRD received the fewest votes in its history. One could say the fall of the PRD was implemented by the PRI, which corrupts when it can not beat.
Figures for the state of Oaxaca are: 16.38% for the PAN, not surprising in a state which has been PRI dominated for eight decades. The PRI garnered 42.35% of the 40.75% of registered voters who bothered to vote. The voto nulo achieved 4.6% statewide, with 6.377% in the capital city. 40.75% of the eligible voters participated, and of those, 42.35% supported the PRI. The current tally indicates 314,684 voters elected the sweep of eleven PRI delegates to congress. That’s out of 2,404,498 registered to vote: 13% of voters control the state. The over-all voter participation of 40.7% was higher than many expected.
This sad figure reflects the condition of Oaxaca, where peoples have gone their own way. They won’t play the game anymore. They haven’t yet united, not even to vote “none of the above”. The peak of coherence came with the Oaxaca People’s Popular Assembly (APPO)’s move in 2006 to oust the governor. More people marched against him (600,000 is the conservative estimate) than voted PRI in 2009. When the governor was rescued by the federal government, he resumed his policy of divide and conquer. Through considerable effort on the part of the PRI elite to divide towns internally and externally, Oaxacans remain fragmented; worse, petty jealousies exist between the many active organizations. The best known, the APPO and the teachers’ Section 22, must both deal with internal currents of dissension encouraged —or bought—by the PRI government.
The good news: a majority of voters deem no current political party clean, or worth supporting. The consciousness of the people increases daily and daily battles are waged against the various government agencies. Oaxacans know enough to reject the politicians and neoliberal policies. We’re waiting for what can be done next.
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