One week after presidential elections were celebrated in the country, Mexicans have organized massive protests against the victory of PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled Mexico for 71 years. As much as 80,000 people protested in Mexico City on Saturday, July 7th, against Enrique Peña Nieto’s win in the presidential election, accusing his party of buying votes and paying broadcast media for support.
Demonstrators were angered by allegations that PRI gave out groceries, pre-paid gift cards and other goods to voters before the elections on July 1. Since May, members of the movement #YoSoy132 started massive protests against the PRI candidate. After the election, protesters demand the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), nowadays called “Institute of Electoral Fraud,” to investigate claims of illegal practices to get votes. Is there any chance that the electoral authority will decide to invalidate Mexico’s latest election?
Since its beginning, the political campaign of Peña Nieto was questioned about payments made to journalists in exchange for positive coverage. A day after the election, citizens and journalists documented that people rushed to Soriana, a supermarket chain, to buy items using their gift certificates stamped with the PRI logo. A well respected journalist in Tijuana also documented that people received as much as $200 dollars in cash in exchange for PRI votes. They made sure that recipients voted PRI with a picture of the ballot taken with a mobile phone, and in some cases, they even hired children who escorted voters to the polls, according to Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho.
The leftist candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador “AMLO,” has announced that they will file new complaints about the practice of buying votes, which is illegal under federal law. Mexican political analyst Ricardo Raphael explains that if those claims are true, by law, those irregularities are punished with fines against the party, but by no means, an election would be invalid. Raphael predicts that claims of electoral fraud have the intention to debilitate the political power of Mexico’s next president in order to force him to hand over the political agenda to the leftist party, which resulted as the second largest political force in the Mexican Congress.
In the latest general elections, PRI ended as the first minority in the Mexican Congress, but lacks absolute majority to pass any legislative issues without negotiation.
Moving its political machine to get votes, PRI has shown how little the party has changed since its inception in 1929. But now Mexicans demonstrate how much they care about democratic practices. Protesters say: “Mexican democracy is not a telenovela.”
When the next Mexican president takes power, he will only face two options: to suppress the citizens’ movement, or to listen to people’s demands and take serious steps to gain their trust. One of the things that people demand the most is open TV competition in Mexico and a reform of electoral rules.