ELECTION MONITOR 04.15.15

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Security and the Elections

The leaders of almost all of the political parties, except MORENA and Movimiento Ciudadano, met last week with the Secretary of the Interior, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, to agree to a series of measures to ensure candidates’ safety and to analyze security concerns regarding certain regions across the country.

As a result of the meeting, both the parties and the Secretary reported that there are optimal conditions throughout the country to develop the electoral process harmoniously. However, they also agreed to put in place coordination measures to ensure the correct development of the campaigns, such as: the establishment of a dialogue table with party leaders and authorities to report and monitor potential issues, and deepening communication with some groups that have been advocating against the elections such as the teachers union in Guerrero (CETEG for its Spanish acronym), the parents of the missing students of Ayotzinapa, and other groups. In addition, the authorities shared some potential trouble spots, located in parts of Guerrero, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas, with the party leaders, so that they can monitor them and take them into account when campaigning.

Asserting that the election is in danger due to security would be a mistake. It is positive that the federal government met with party leaderships and so is the fact that they share the diagnosis of security in certain regions of the country that have higher risks. It is also true that security is a shared responsibility between the federal and local governments but also the parties must provide or have control over the candidates that are representing them in the elections.

On the other side, it is yet to see if the government is actually opening communication channels with groups that don’t want the election to take place. In this sense, it will be responsibility of all parties, levels of governments, and civil society to speak out about the key role that elections have in a democracy and highlight to the public opinion why is way better to have elections and vote that not to do it.

National Electoral Institute Sanctions to the Parties

On April 8 and 12, the Complaints Commission of the National Electoral Institute (INE) ordered the suspension of two campaigns started by the Partido Verde Ecologista (PVEM). The first campaign involved free movie tickets that promoted the party, and the second one was the delivery of school supplies with a partisan agenda and with products not authorized by the electoral law. The commission argued that the party was violating the principles of fairness in the electoral race, and prohibited all campaign strategies that linked specific benefits with the parties. Such penalties are in addition to the recent revocation of a couple of ads from the PAN and the PRI. In them, political parties cross accusations about alleged corruption acts and the Institute determined that they were defamatory, ordering their immediate suspension.

In the case of the PVEM, the suspensions add to several economic sanctions that the party has received in the last few months by the misuse of promotional media with fines that have reached more than $10 million dollars, which have even affected some television and radio stations through which those advertisements were promoted. The fines, ordered by the Complaints Commission of the Institute and endorsed by the Electoral Court of the Judiciary Branch, apply for spreading messages that do not follow the model of political communication, using social programs to promote the party, and using prohibited methods of advertising, such as promotion in theaters and through short message services (SMS).

With these actions, the INE is accomplishing the difficult task of regulating and sanctioning misdemeanors of the political parties during the campaigns. At the same time, it is setting the tone for the political debate by setting precedents on how to treat cross accusations from the political parties and candidates.

While sanctions and suspensions are intended to enforce the current regulatory framework, in social media and political rallies these actions are likely to continue occurring. For example, the PRI already mentioned that it will respond strongly to the opposition, the PAN has called on its followers to film and upload to social networks similar material to what the INE forbade them, and PVEM has increased its advertising in Mexico City. In terms of regulating campaigns, political advertising is clearly among the most important challenges that the INE has in this election.

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