On June 7, midterm elections will be held in Mexico with voting to determine all 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, as well as nine governorships, 17 state legislatures and roughly 300 mayors. In the weeks and months prior to the elections however, the legitimacy of the electoral system have been challenged by voices across the political spectrum, including threats from a major teachers’ union to burn ballots and blockade roads to prevent access to ballot stations as well as a call for an electoral boycott by parents of 43 students who were disappeared last September in Iguala, Guerrero.
According to a study conducted by the National Survey of Public Opinion, 71 percent of Mexicans believe that corruption will influence the results of the elections. Six out of ten Mexicans believe that the decisions reached in the elections by the citizenry will not be respected by the government. These are just two statistics among others which demonstrates the disillusionment of many in the country with both the electoral and party system. In May, the National Electoral Institute (INE) came under fire when a recording of its president, Lorenzo Córdova, was leaked in which he mocked an indigenous leader and belittled the parents of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa.
In Guerrero and Oaxaca, over 100,000 ballots have been burned or destroyed in recent days and there have been 25 political assassinations in 2015 and over seventy instances of election-related violence. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Mexico’s oldest political party and the party of current president Enrique Peña Nieto, has recently come under fire from opponents both on the right and the left due to a program implemented during the election period to distribute ten million free TVs to poor Mexicans. The government has defended this plan as a “way to bring all Mexicans into the digital age” but critics have decried it as a classic vote buying tactic.
In Oaxaca, members of Section 22 of the National Coordinating Committee for Educational Workers (CNTE) have blockaded a major airport and shut down the state’s oil refinery in an attempt to frustrate elections as well as to voice opposition to recent educational reforms put into place which would force educators to be graded on student performance with metrics they say fail to account for the unique challenges of working in rural and indigenous communities. The INE has vowed not to militarize zones where access voting could be impacted, saying that instead those areas will just not be given ballots. This decision means that those living in areas with the most social unrest, including parts of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero and Michoacán, will be stripped of their right to participate in the electoral process.
On Friday, June 6, over 30 civil and human rights organizations in Oaxaca issued a national and international alert of a human rights crisis currently occuring in the state and across Mexico. The alert denounces widespread forced disappearences, political arrests, torture, and femicides as the result of collusion between the political system and drug cartels and indifference of the political elite, among other factors. The organizations are calling for international human rights groups, foreign embassies and Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission to be prepared to document state repression and violence against Oaxacans, including steps taken by the government to criminilize social protests in the election period. Read the statement in Spanish here.
Mexico’s Midterm Elections: The Unanswered Questions: Huffington Post
Mexico Elections 2015 A Hallmark of Violence: El Proceso (in translation)
Update: Get the Facts about Mexico’s 2015 Midterm Elections: Americas Society/Council of the Americas