Jul 2, 2012

Laura's Blog: Elections over, but uncertainty remains

#Iam132 march before the election (Rodrigo Jardon)
Yesterday, we at the Americas Program team spread to various points of the country and participated in the elections, as citizens, accredited observers, reporters or a combination. Despite praise for Mexico's democracy throughout the press, none of us encountered a smoothly functioning electoral system.

I was in Colonia Tortuga, in southern Mexico City and later in the Zócalo, watching the press and checking out the long lines at the various polling places. I've also been doing interviews with international and national press and finding that following the elections, there is little patience for a voice of dissent and criticisms are largely seen as raining on the parade of democratic succession here. With notable exceptions, fraud is not being discussed in polite circles. Pundits are willing to discuss the pros and cons of a return of the PRI but few talk about what happened to democracy itself this time around. Even in the international arena, the pre-written script of the victory of Enrique Peña Nieto seems to require this last scene of universal acceptance to usher in the era of a new PRI that looks identical to the old PRI and has the same DNA.

#Iam132 organized candle-lit march (Rodrigo Jardon) 
President Obama called to congratulate the PRI candidate, days before the official results are out and before his closest opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has conceded. It seemed a rude and unnecessary form of pressure for the U.S. government to jump ahead of the Mexican electoral authorities in proclaiming a winner.

I wrote this article "From the Perfect Dictatorship to the Imperfect Democracy" directly in Spanish, while watching the results until 4 AM last night. You can see it here. I thought a lot about whether given the dirty tricks and numerous obstacles to the exercise of the vote, the process could be called a "democracy". Some people have questioned the call, but in political science terms, it's correct. Mexico no longer lives in the time of the dedazo, people do vote, and new laws, rules and institutions have sought to push the nation from one-party rule to an authentic representative democracy. That doesn't mean it's there or even that those laws are applied, as described in the article. But you couldn't call it a dictatorship. The articles emphasizes the "imperfect". I will have it here in English by later tonight.

Police at march before election (Rodrigo Jardon)
Today the students of I am 132 marched again in a large demonstration downtown. Lopez Obrador held a press conference and announced that he will challenge the election on legal grounds. Tomorrow official results come out. We will be here, so stay tuned. This is not over...

Laura Carlsen
Photos by Rodrigo Jardon

(To hear and see some of the interviews over the past hectic days, please check this short piece on Uprising Radio of KPFK, and NBC Nightly News with Mark Potter tonight.)

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