Runner-up in Mexico poll files lawsuit over result
THE RUNNER-UP in Mexico’s recent presidential election has lodged a legal challenge to invalidate the result, claiming the vote was rigged with a combination of vote-buying, biased media coverage and manipulated opinion polls.
Left-wing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador came in 3.3 million votes behind Enrique Peña Nieto from the Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI), according to the official count from the July 1st vote.
But the former mayor of Mexico City, who lost the 2006 presidential race by a narrower margin, alleged on Thursday night that the campaign was rigged.
“The minority that dominates the country decided a long time ago to impose Enrique Peña Nieto as president of Mexico in order to maintain the corrupt regime that benefits them,” said Mr López Obrador before his representatives formally presented their case to the electoral authorities.
“We will not accept the corruption that dominates national life. We fight for the moral rebirth of Mexico.” The PRI president, Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, dismissed the allegations and insisted the result was legitimate.
“The political choice of millions of voters cannot be invalidated by the refusal to recognise the legal truth and political reality of Mexico,” he said. “The only problem with this election was the presence of somebody [López Obrador] who has repeatedly proved himself to be a bad loser.”
Mr López Obrador’s claims of fraud recall Mexico’s last presidential election in 2006 in which he also refused to accept defeat after losing by half a percentage point to Felipe Calderón of the National Action party (PAN).
On that occasion the legal complaint coincided with mass protests by his supporters over the entire five-month transition period between the election and Mr Calderón’s inauguration, which took place amid scenes of pandemonium within congress.
Mr López Obrador has been careful this time around to keep within the same institutional channels he previously denounced as part of a plot to keep him out of power.
But while the left-winger has so far avoided taking his latest complaints of election-fiddling to the streets himself, the widespread evidence of dirty tricks has generated large protest marches. These are associated with a new student movement that erupted during the campaign and was initially focused on TV giant Televisa’s alleged bias in favour of the PRI candidate.
Protests since the election have focused on claims that Mr Peña Nieto’s victory was “imposed” rather than suggesting that Mr López Obrador was the true winner.
Announcing the legal challenge on Thursday, Mr López Obrador said the PRI had activated a massive vote-buying operation in poverty-stricken areas after the student movement had begun to dent Mr Peña Nieto’s initial lead.
He claimed the operation, overseen by party governors around the country, had secured about five million votes for Mr Peña Nieto with the help of illicit funds channelled into the distribution of vote-conditioned cash, along with handouts of food, construction materials, fertilizers and pre-paid supermarket cards.
Mr López Obrador’s case also claimed Mr Peña Nieto’s campaign broke election finance limits on publicity and events, and alleges opinion polls that wildly overestimated the margin of his victory were “propaganda weapons” used to create a sensation that his victory was unstoppable.
The Federal Electoral Tribunal has until September 6th to resolve all formal complaints. Most observers expect it to ratify Mr Peña Nieto’s win in large part because, while smaller than many expected, his margin of victory of 3.3 million votes is still substantial. To hold any weight in the tribunal, allegations of vote-buying must be supported not only by evidence of gifts given, but also proof of pressure applied to ensure these resulted in votes. – (Guardian service )