Wednesday, July 07, 2010
ballots without bullets
A robin may not a spring make.
But three consecutive blogs about Britain make me wonder where Mexico went. According to the news, it is right where I left it.
On Sunday, Mexico went to the polls, for local elections, and sent a mixed message to its political leaders.
Last summer the voters gave a vote of confidence to the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI), at the expense of the center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), by almost doubling PRI's membership in the Chamber of Deputies.
This year the voters were not as generous to PRI in local elections, but the party of the voters' grandfathers -- the only party that mattered for more than 70 years -- held its own.
The only disturbing factor was the high number of political assassinations -- nearly 50.
Mexico is not a stranger to political violence. From its independence in 1810 through its 1910 revolution (and related subsequent violence), armed factions have settled scores without regard to ballot results. Years of disorder that robbed Mexico of its economic powerhouse status.
That tradition was too evident in this year's elections. A former presidential candidate was kidnapped and is still missing. The leading gubernatorial candidature in Tamaulipas was assassinated.
Almost all of the violence has tracked back to drug lords in Mexico bent on punishing anyone not willing to protect their interests. They will not accept the bravery of some politicians to challenge their operations -- or for those who double-cross them.
Despite the violence, Mexican voters turned up, chose between candidates of competing ideologies, and then accepted the results as being legitimate.
Mexico has a double centennial this year: for its independence and its revolution. History has not been kind to Mexico. But the country may have finally arrived by trading its violent political past for one-party authoritarianism, and then trading up to function as a liberal democracy.
Having said that, the drug violence will remain a challenge to the system until some brave leader steps up to stop the madness through legalization.
But that is a topic for another day.
For now, we can join Mexico in waving its flag in celebration of its working republic.