The runner-up in Mexico’s presidential election has rejected Enrique Pena Nieto’s “fraudulent” victory, raising the spectre of protests that rocked Mexico City when he lost six years ago.
WHEN Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lost the 2006 presidential election by less than one per cent he claimed fraud and organised mass protests that paralysed Mexico City for more than a month.
The first official results from Sunday’s vote showed Lopez Obrador with 31 per cent of the vote against 38 per cent for Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) – a much wider margin than six years ago.
“We cannot accept a fraudulent result, nobody can accept that,” Lopez Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) said at a press conference, decrying Sunday’s vote as a “filthy … national embarrassment.”
The PRI was synonymous with the Mexican state as it governed for seven decades until 2000 using a mixture of pervasive patronage, selective repression, rigged elections and widespread bribery.
Lopez Obrador claimed the PRI, through its national party and governors, spent millions of pesos buying votes. He also charged that the news media heavily favoured the PRI and that the party shattered campaign spending limits.
“We will provide evidence for these claims and will file appropriate legal action,” said Lopez Obrador, emphasising that he and his supporters will first scrutinise the balloting results with election officials.
He was coy about whether he would call for protests like in 2006, saying: “We’re going to wait.”
Students from the #Yosoy132 movement, however, did not wait. To the cry of “A Mexico without the PRI!” they expressed their anger in a Mexico City march over what they also described as “fraud” in Sunday’s vote.
City police said more than 25,000 protesters took to the streets on Monday in anger in the city’s upscale Polanco neighbourhood.
One of the protesters, 20-year-old Bruno Rebolledo, said the protest movement aimed for “a revolution, but not violent, one of ideas.”
Lopez Obrador said he “respects” the movement’s independence, and refrained from urging them to join his protests.
Pena Nieto earlier said today’s PRI was a party that respected democracy.
“There is no return to the past. This PRI that is coming into office has proven its democratic conviction,” the 45 year-old told foreign reporters.
Pena Nieto vowed to fight poverty and “re-examine” the country’s drug policies, but also called on the United States to enact immigration reform and do more to curtail demand for drugs.
He said he would create a new 40,000-strong National Gendarmerie to patrol the most violent areas and expand the federal police by 35,000 officers.
Pena Nieto has previously vowed to maintain Calderon’s unpopular strategy of using the military to attack the drug cartels and capture crime capos.
The war on the country’s powerful cartels in recent years has left a grisly trail of kidnappings, beheadings and mass graves, with the capture of a number of high-ranking kingpins having little effect on the spiralling death toll.
But the drug war – which has killed over 50,000 people during the presidency of Felipe Calderon – handed the PRI a new chance to prove itself.
The economy grew under Calderon, but so did poverty, with 47 per cent of 112 million Mexicans considered poor, according to official figures.
US President Barack Obama called on Monday to congratulate Pena Nieto, promising to advance “common goals” with Mexico, including “promoting democracy, economic prosperity and security,” according to a White House statement.
- Mexico’s Leftists Again Question Presidential Vote (abcnews.go.com)
- Leftist candidate rejects Mexico results as ‘fraudulent’ (rawstory.com)