Thursday, June 10, 2021

squeaking by

If you have been reading the local Facebook pages, as well as following Mexpatriate, you know that Mexico held much-anticipated elections on Sunday.

This was not a presidential election year. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) still has three years left in his term. But most commentators saw the election as a barometer of how the Mexican public viewed his policies. And the answer was a resounding -- mehhh. His party's majority was reduced in the House of Deputies, but he retains a working majority with at least one eccentrically unreliable coalition partner.

But most of us who watched the election as observers were far more interested in the local races -- especially for president of Cihuatlán. For the past two months the streets here have been filled with exuberant supporters attempting to prove popular support of their candidate (ballots are in the air).

We have been fortunate. The excitement was primarily positive. That was not true elsewhere in Mexico. This was one of the most violent election cycles in recent memory. From September to election day, 89 politicians were murdered. This area, fortunately, dodged that bullet.

On Wednesday, the official election count was released. There were eight official candidates for the Cihuatlán presidency. Last April, my very unscientific soundings indicated that the race would be between Movimaiento Ciudadano, The Citizens’ Movement (MC), the incumbent party, and a new reformist party, Hagamos (roughly translated as "Let's do it").

During the campaign, I started to doubt the wisdom of that prediction. The MC demonstrations were markedly larger than those of Hagamos. But I should have stuck with my initial impressions. The two parties almost tied.

Of the 14,362 votes accepted as valid, the MC candidate received 2,877 votes (20.03%) to 2,852 votes (19.85%) for the Hagamos candidate -- a mere spread of 25 votes. Somewhere, Lyndon Johnson is smiling. And he may be smiling at something more than his "landslide" nickname. 

There are a lot of fascinating back stories on the other six candidates (like the shockingly-low result for the once-mighty PRI), but they will keep for another day. Today, I want to touch on one other facet of the election.

Whenever elections are this close, there are almost always some allegations of misconduct. And this election is no exception.

The complaints revolve around one voting station where the local police, rather than the national guard, were called in to secure ballot boxes. But the complaint goes further. There are allegations that the box contained 200 more ballots than voters that were recorded as voting.

It is important to remember these are allegations. And they only arose yesterday, so there has certainly not been an official investigation. That will happen. And there are a lot of ways for the dispute to be peacefully resolved. This is Mexico.

I pass this along as I was briefed -- unvarnished without any spin. There is a good reason for that. Even though I do have an opinion about all this, I am not going to share it for the same reason the Queen does not reveal her political opinions. The British constitution constrains her; Article 33 of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 constrains me ("Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country"). And I do not want to be deported over something as trivial as politics.

So, as a hobby journalist, I will follow the dispute and report back on any developments. Politics may touch on our lives only lightly, but it is nice to know what is going on in the community I call home.  

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