Tag Archives: INE

ELECTION MONITOR 06.04.15

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Gubernatorial Debates

Since a little over 20 years ago, holding debates between candidates has become common in the Mexican political environment. Naturally, the first efforts were made during presidential campaigns. In fact, the first presidential debate was held during the 1994 elections. However, from that moment on, gubernatorial debates have been also increasingly common. The first public and broadcasted debate of this type was in 1997, during the first campaign to elect the Mayor of Mexico City. Debates have been driven either by electoral authorities or by media outlets. In this context, during the campaigns that today come to an end, there have been debates among the candidates for most of the 2015 gubernatorial elections.

Nuevo León, one of the most important states whose gubernatorial election became more competitive as campaigns advances, had 5 debates. One organized by electoral authorities, one more organized by the Civic Council Citizen through its platform Nuevo León ¿Cómo Vamos? two organized by universities (the University of Monterrey and Universidad Regiomontana) and the other one organized by El Norte, a leading newspaper from Grupo Reforma. Some have been summoned all candidates and in others only the pointers in the polls.

In all debates, each of the candidates has established his or her priorities and government plans in case of winning. The most recurrent themes were corruption and transparency, security, urban planning, and social and economic development. As a symbol of a closed competition, the meetings have not been free of attacks and insults among candidates.

Nuevo León debate organized by Nuevo León ¿Cómo Vamos? (in Spanish)

Nuevo León debate organized by the University of Monterrey (in Spanish)

Nuevo León debate organized by electoral authorities (in Spanish)

Nuevo León debate organized by El Norte (in Spanish)

In Michoacán, electoral authorities organized two debates. All the candidates were invited. Given the latest developments in the state, it was no surprise that much of the discussion centered on proposals and recriminations on the subject of security.

Michoacán first debate (in Spanish)

In Guerrero, state electoral authorities hosted a debate among all candidates for the governorship. As in the case of Michoacán, security was a recurring issue in all of the speeches and proposals. The candidates also addressed issues of poverty, tourism, public health, and social development.

Guerrero first debate (in Spanish)

Other entities such as Sonora, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Baja California Sur, and Campeche also carried out one or two debates among candidates. In most states, there were other spaces where candidates contrast their proposals.

Querétaro first debate (in Spanish)

Sonora first debate (in Spanish)

Undoubtedly, the debates are important to the electorate, as they are spaces in which the contrast of ideas and positions is clearer than in speeches and/or political rallies. Of course, these kind of democratic exercises also serve to discredit and attack the opponents, which is also a good sign of democracy, as the political act is not without the clash of ideas. It is positive that debates in Mexico are becoming more common and that the both citizens and the media see these spaces as the right place to bounce ideas among the various candidates. Hopefully, these exercises will also help to increase citizen participation in the elections next Sunday.

 

 

Mexico Elections 2015: Lorenzo Córdova Apologizes After Indigenous Insults From Wiretapped Conversation Go Viral

By Julia Glum in International Business Times 05/20/15

The head of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute was forced to apologize after illegally recorded audio of him ridiculing indigenous people leaked online. Lorenzo Córdova Vianello, the director of the group that will oversee the country’s elections June 7, was still trending on Twitter Wednesday morning as users passed around the controversial clip.

The audio, thought to have been obtained via wiretap, was posted to YouTube on Tuesday afternoon by “Jon Doe.” The roughly two-minute video reportedly includes a part of a conversation between Córdova and his executive secretary, Edmundo Jacobo.

 

The exchange likely happened after an April 23 meeting where indígenas, or indigenous people, asked to be allowed to create another federal constituency in Congress, Excelsior reported. The indígenas had said they’d stop the elections if their requests weren’t granted, and they eventually met with Córdova.

The next day, in conversation with Jacobo, Córdova made fun of what they said. He compared the leaders to characters in the “Lone Ranger” and ridiculed how they spoke, Telesur reported. “From the dramatic meetings with the parents of the Ayotzinapa kids, to this jerk … There was one, no s—, I can’t lie, let me tell you how this jerk spoke,” Córdova said in Spanish. “’I boss, great nation Chichimeca, I come Guanajuato. I say here or legislators, for us, I don’t permit your elections.’”

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Mexico’s top election official offended the nation with a racist rant

By Ioan GrilloGlobal Post in Los Angeles Daily News 04/27/15

MEXICO CITY — Racism in Mexico has different dynamics than over the border in the United States.

The majority of people here have both European and indigenous roots. The census does not identify people by skin color. After the Mexican Revolution, the government promoted the concept of the “Raza Cosmica,” an ideal of a mixed-race nation.

Yet, racism still exists, and at some of the highest levels. That showed this week in a blowup over a leaked phone call with Mexico’s top electoral official, in which he mocked indigenous people — the 15 million Mexicans who speak languages such as Nahuatl or Mixtec.

Lorenzo Cordova, president of the National Electoral Institute, was talking on the phone to an aide when he launched into his racist rant.

He ridiculed an indigenous leader who’d called for a new electoral district, saying, “I’m not lying, I’m going to tell you how this bastard spoke.” Then he proceeded to impersonate Tonto from the “Lone Ranger”: “Me, boss Chichimeca great nation. Me come Guanajuato. Me to say you….” Then he compared the community to “Martians.”

To give a sense of how incendiary this is — it’s a bit like if a white US Supreme Court justice were caught using the N-word and speaking in mock Ebonics.

The audio of Cordova’s call mysteriously appeared on YouTube on Tuesday, and clocked up a quarter of a million views within a few hours. It went viral on Twitter and drew thousands of comments on websites.

“Incredible phone conversation of Lorenzo Cordova. Making fun of those he should be serving,” tweeted the columnist Gabriel Guerra.

It couldn’t come at a worse time for Cordova. He’s overseeing midterm elections on June 7, in which Mexico will vote for hundreds of new lawmakers, governors and mayors.

The ballot has already been clouded by corruption scandals and political violence.

On Tuesday, Cordova apologized for his outburst in a hastily called press conference.

“During the phone call I spoke in an unfortunate and disrespectful manner,” Cordova said. “I’d like to take this opportunity to offer a frank and sincere apology to anybody who could have been offended.”

However, he also filed a criminal complaint with federal prosecutors about someone recording and leaking his calls.

It’s unclear who was behind it. The audio was posted on YouTube by “Jon Doe.”

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Can Mexico’s Electoral Authority Stop Criminal Funding?

By Patrick Corcoran in Insight Crime 05/11/15

Mexico is weeks away from a landmark midterm election, but many analysts worry that the nation’s electoral authorities are dropping the ball as far as criminal organizations financing their preferred candidates.

On June 7, Mexico will elect the entire lower house of congress, nine governorships, and local offices in more than half the country. While the Senate and the presidency are not in play, it is the most important date in the electoral calendar prior to the 2018 election.

Against that backdrop, some analysts are worried that the nation’s campaign regulatory agency, the National Electoral Institute (INE), is not doing enough to prevent the flow of money stemming from organized crime into candidates’ campaign war chests. Jesus Tovar Mendoza, the Executive Director of the think tank Red de Estudios sobre la Calidad de la Democracia en America Latina, recently complained to E-Consulta that the statutes enforced by the INE are insufficient.

According to Tovar, campaigns have to make detailed filings outlining what they spend, but the INE does little to verify where the money comes from. As a result, criminal groups are able to provide cash or in-kind benefits to campaigns or directly to voters in order to sway votes. And since INE leaders are heavily reliant on the political parties for their posts, there is a heavy disincentive to crack down on illicit funding, because all of the parties benefit from extra cash flowing through the campaign coffers.

Mexico has long struggled to deal with illegal political money. In the aftermath of Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidential election in 2012, journalists and investigators turned up evidence of his party’s illegal vote-buying schemes financed through prepaid debit cards. Some of the financing for these cards was traced back to figures linked to organized crime.

Mexico has also, of course, long suffered from the links between politicians and criminal organizations, which can be solidified through campaign contributions that essentially buy a politician’s loyalty. The clearest example of this is the rash of prominent and powerful politicians who have been exposed as criminal allies, from former Michoacan Congressman Julio Cesar Godoy to Jose Luis Abarca, the former mayor of Iguala, Guerrero.

There is also the possibility that organized crime dollars could influence the outcome of the election. While swinging a presidential election in a nation of 110 million is a tall order, it is completely plausible to buy enough votes to influence a close gubernatorial election in, say Colima, a key Pacific state where 140,000 votes will likely be enough for a victory. That is to say nothing of the lightly contested local races around the country.

InSight Crime Analysis

The INE was originally created in 2013 to replace the now-defunct Federal Electoral Institute (IFE). While organized crime was not a direct cause of the switch, the new agency at least theoretically should have helped limit the presence of dirty money in elections. The INE centralized the electoral apparatus, and reduced the role of state tribunals that were largely beholden to governors. Because state governments are widely seen as being more susceptible to corruption than their relatively honest counterpart at the federal level, particularly with regard to organized crime, this shift theoretically should have produced a less vulnerable electoral framework.

This logic, popular though it is in Mexico, appears to have been faulty. And not for the first time: many analysts have long advocated for the disappearance of Mexico‘s thousands of municipal police departments, again on the untested theory that the mere centralization of the forces into 32 states will translate into more effective police. As with the INE’s replacement of the IFE, this was overly simplistic.

The persistent problems at the INE also demonstrate that institutional reform is a very tedious process. Mexican leaders have long demonstrated a fetish for creating new agencies when old ones fail. This is especially true in the security realm; Mexico has cycled through countless new federal police bodies over the past twenty years, none of them markedly better than their predecessors. The reason is that merely creating a new institution does nothing to strengthen it. On the contrary, often the same pathologies afflicting the old agency are absorbed into the new one. And while improving institutions is both a laudable and vital enterprise in Mexico, there is no reason to expect it to occur simply by decreeing a brand new entity. A new name is little more than a first step.

It’s hard to determine at this stage how much damage there might be from criminal groups financing politicians. It seems unlikely that the new class of leaders will be especially vulnerable to narcos, since this is not a new problem. Nevertheless, it remains clear that this is one of a number of persistent security challenges that Mexicohas been unable to surmount.

And the result is a political class of which the nation is rightly suspicious. Mexico has grown quite competent at rooting out its most dangerous criminals with regularity. A more effective INE would be an effective tool in also reining in the criminals’ political supporters, but it remains a far-off goal.

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Video of Mexican Official Mocking Indigenous Peoples Goes Viral

By TeleSur 05/19/15

The head of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute was forced to apologise after a recorded phone conversation leaked.  The director of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) is coming under heavy fire and calls for his resignation after an audio was uploaded on Tuesday afternoon of the public servant allegedly mocking indigenous peoples and the families of the disappeared 43 Ayotzinapa students. The video has gone viral.

Lorenzo Cordova, head of the agency that guarantees and organizes national elections can be heard on a recorded telephone conversation with Edmundo Molina, Executive Secretary of the INE, ridiculing indigenous leaders who participated in a meeting with the bureaucrat, denouncing the electoral process.

“From the dramatic meetings with the parents of the Ayotzinapa kids, to this jerk…There was one, no shit, I can’t lie, let me tell you how this jerk spoke,” said Cordova. The director continued in a voice mimicking the indigenous participants of the meeting: “I boss, great nation Chichimeca, I come Guanajuato. I say here or legislators, for us, I don’t permit your elections.”

Cordova continued, in a loud laugh: “I see a lot of ‘Lone Ranger’, with this jerk ‘bull’, no shit, he only lacked saying ‘I great sitting bull chief, great leader of Chichimeca nation’, no shit, no shit, it is of horror man.”

The INE did not reject the authenticity of the audio, and later on Tuesday issued a press release in which it said it expressed its “indignation” for these kinds of activities. However it also denounced the audio as an “illegal intervention”. “With this detection of an illegal intervention of telephone conversations between the Council President and the Executive Secretary of the National Electoral Institute (INE), today a formal penal complaint has been filed with the Attorney General’s office.”

Late on Tuesday, Cordova formally apologized for the comments made on the April 24th conversation. He said in the brief press conference, “I offer a frank apology if I offended anyone with my comments.”

It is still unclear who recorded the telephone conversation, however speculation circulates as to the motivation with only weeks until Mexico’s June 7th midterm elections.

This material was originally published in TeleSUR, you can read the original post here.

You can hear the conversation here (in Spanish).

 

Mexico Elections 2015: Green Party Fined As Protesters Petition For Deregistration

By Julia Glum in International Business Times 05/14/15

Mexico’s Green Party (Partido Verde Ecologista de México, or PVEM) was penalized again this week as calls for the group’s deregistration grew. The National Electoral Institute fined PVEM about 322 million pesos, or about $21 million, Wednesday for advertisements the group paid for illegally, CNN reported. The decision came as a Change.org petition demanding authorities withdraw PVEM’s registration surpassed 150,000 signatures.

“The fines to be imposed on the Green Party are insufficient and ineffective,” the petition’s authors wrote in Spanish. “It is time that citizens demand that the law is enforced and that the authorities do their job.”

But when the topic came up Wednesday during a meeting of the congressional Permanent Commission, politicians shut it down. Senators and deputies affiliated with PVEM and the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) voted against discussing opposition Sen. Armando Ríos Piter’s proposal that the party be disqualified from next month’s congressional elections, Aristegui Noticias reported.

Ríos Piter and the petitioners argued that PVEM continually violated electoral regulations. In this election cycle, the small party has been disciplined for giving out free movie tickets, gift cards and calendars made — ironically — from toxic materials, Telesur reported. “To request the cancellation of the PVEM is the least we can do,” Ríos Piter said in Spanish. “This impunity is now a reflection of the massive corruption that exists in our electoral system.”

PVEM has fired back, saying they haven’t committed any irregularities and are only being prosecuted because other parties have pressured the electoral authorities to change the rules, journalist Gustavo Rentería reported. The party’s spokesman, Charles Bridge, told reporters it intended to file a complaint against Mexico’s government in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Excelsior reported.

PVEM is one of 10 parties campaigning ahead of Mexico’s legislative election set for June 7.

Mexico: Zapatistas Say Don’t Vote, Organize

By TeleSur 05/07/15

The social movement rejected claims that it supports spoiling ballots, but also denies that it supports the electoral process. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) reject calling for an abstention of Mexico’s upcoming midterm summer elections, emphasizing instead the need for people in Mexico to organize.

“As the Zapatistas that we are, we do not call for not voting, nor for voting. As the Zapatistas that we are, we do what we do, all that can be done, that is to tell the people that they should organize to resist, to struggle, so as to have what they need,” said the group in Wednesday’s communique, read by Subcomandante Moises at the Critical Thinking Against the Capitalist Hydra Seminar in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

The indigenous social movement that rose up in arms in 1994 after the North American Free Trade Agreement was put into effect, denounced assertions made that they backed a growing campaign to boycott the state, federal and municipal elections on June 7.

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ELECTION MONITOR 04.30.15

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Campaigns’ content and low enthusiasm for the election

According to a study requested by the National Electoral Institute (INE), only 47% of Mexicans know the correct date of the legislative elections, a figure that rises to 51% in states where there is also a gubernatorial election. Furthermore, only 38% of voters intend to vote on Election Day, although some of them indicated that they will either spoil the ballot or leave it blank. That number increases to 45% in states with gubernatorial elections.

These figures are in line with historical data in Mexico. According to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, voter turnout in the legislative elections in Mexico was 44.61% in 2009, 41.68% in 2003, and 57.69% in 1997. These numbers are lower in comparison with the turnout for legislative elections when there are also Presidential elections. For example in 2012, the turnout was 62.45%, and in 2006, it was 58.60%.

According to a study by BGC, 80% of voters believe that the campaigns are concentrating more on criticizing opponents than spreading proposals. According to their study, the most effective campaigns have been those of the PAN and the PVEM (Green Party), followed by the PRI. In the case of the PAN, their criticism of government corruption and their promises of improving security are the two most remembered issues. For the Greens, voters acknowledge that the party has already fulfilled some proposals related to health and security; in the case of the PRI, both criticism of PAN corruption and other benefits of the reforms already approved during this administration are recognized by voters.

 

An example of this last situation is the gubernatorial race for the northern state of Sonora, which has recently received attention for other reasons. The leading candidates of both the PRI and the PAN have been involved in headline-making scandals on the front pages of the major national newspapers. For the PRI, the candidate was accused of improperly benefiting contractors in federal biddings and then was also accused of misusing a foreign-registered aircraft during the campaign. In the case of the PAN, the candidate has been accused of paying for the use of a plane owned by his wife with campaign contributions and was also accused of receiving a multi-million tax-amnesty by the state government. These recent revelations highlight the heated level of the political battle in Mexico and highlight the fact that it has become key to disqualify the opponent. Furthermore, the events in Sonora are surprising since those accusations and the evidence around them are not gathered easily.

In conclusion, these elections have very clear issues to face, such as security in some states, social unrest derived from the missing students, and corruption scandals at all levels of government. However, if these ingredients are coupled with the fact that political participation is generally lower in midterm elections, then it is clear that the challenge of attracting voters is enormous. In this context, is uncertain if political communication strategies chosen by the parties during these campaigns will encourage voter turnout, or in fact could have the opposite effect, lowering participation.

 

The campaign ads Mexico’s censors don’t want you to see

By Ioan Grillo in Global Post 04/27/15

MEXICO CITY — You might think US election campaigns get too negative sometimes. Well, south of the Rio Grande, Mexican politicians are inspired.

And they’re even taking it a step further.

Look at this ad the opposition National Action Party (PAN) made for the midterm elections coming in June.

(Don’t worry, non-Spanish speakers, we’ll translate the nasty part below. Plus you may learn a bit of Mexican slang in the process.)

A man is asked what he thinks about the leader of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) wearing a $140,000 watch.

The man responds: It’s a “chingadera” — which roughly translates as “totally f—ed up.”

The PRI leader denied the accusation, so Mexico’s electoral authority banned the commercial. But then the ban made the forbidden campaign ad into a hot news item, and crystallized the politician’s overly blinged-out reputation.

Not to be beaten, the PRI made this revenge spot with almost exactly the same format. In it, a man is asked what he thinks of PAN legislators taking bribes from projects to build schools and hospitals.

“Que poca madre!” he responds. That’s more Mexican slang that essentially means, among other things, “totally f—ed up.”

The PAN also complained, and the electoral authority banned it. (Tit for tat.)

In January, the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) put out this spot pointing to what’s wrong with Mexico.

It not only featured President Enrique Peña Nieto, but also Mexico’s most popular TV news show host, Joaquin Lopez Doriga. Protesters accuse him of being too pro-government and have demonstrated outside his studios.

The PRD released the ad on TV with a sign saying “censored” over Lopez Doriga’s face. Meanwhile, the uncensored commercial on YouTube has clocked more than a quarter of a million hits.

Take that, censors.

OAS and INE of Mexico Signed Agreement on Procedures for Mission to June 7 Elections

By OAS, Press Release 04/27/15

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The Organization of American States (OAS) and the National Electoral Institute of Mexico today signed the agreement that regulates the procedures for the Mission that the hemispheric institution will send to the federal elections in the country on June 7.
In a ceremony held at INE headquarters in Mexico City, the former President of Costa Rica and Chief of the Foreign Visitors Mission, Laura Chinchilla, and the INE President, Lorenzo Córdova signed the document.

President Chinchilla, who was named Chief of Mission by the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, and who is currently on a preliminary visit in Mexico, said “the agreement on procedures signed today establishes the necessary conditions to witness in an independent and impartial manner the 2015 electoral process and the transparency of the Mexican electoral authorities.”

President Córdova, for his part, said he is convinced that “the professionalism of the electoral observation and its reports will be of great use in the consolidation and improvement of the national system of elections.”

The signing ceremony was attended by the Undersecretary of Foreign Relations of Mexico for Latin America, Vanessa Rubio; the Secretary for Political Affairs of the OAS, Kevin Casas-Zamora; and the Executive Secretary of the INE, Edmundo Jacobo.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.