Monday, October 23, 2006
Myths Related to Mexican Elections Are Revealed
By Carlos Luken
The most important result to come from Mexico’s
first official citizen certified presidential election was that National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderon won,
by a razor thin margin, over Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO).
The second, and unfortunately the most reported result,
was AMLO’s outburst in refusing to accept the official election results that lead to his much publicized protest rallies
After the Federal Electoral Tribunal confirmed
the election’s results, which paved the way for Calderon to be officially declared President-elect, the protest atmosphere
calmed down and AMLO’s support rapidly faded as Calderon openly initiated his new administration’s preparatory
and political activities. AMLO also reacted by unwisely entangling himself, lending
his full weight and subsequently diminishing his image, in campaigning in support of a trailing PRD candidate who eventually
lost the Tabasco State gubernatorial race.
Once the elections and their fallout settles, Mexico
may find it stumbled into the exposure of a number of political myths that had gone unchallenged due to a seventy year experience
of autocratic rule and partisan corporative institutions. And these may provide a veritable fertile valley for democratic
The first encouraging discovery casts away a widespread
myth and reveals Mexico’s democratic spirit. As officially certified election numbers reveal, Mexico has over 70 million
registered voters out of which 42 million actually voted. Not considering the partisan results, there is overwhelming evidence
of active and peaceful voter participation. All the election polling booths were directly supervised by hundreds of thousands
of trained citizen officials.
The citizen led authorities proved that elections
can be successfully managed without government intervention, and while holding their ground to partisan criticism and court
challenges, the nation’s electoral institutions proved that they are honest, efficient, credible and of course developing.
Another myth that the election experience will put
to rest is the notion that political parties and their members make up the major part of the election’s returns. If
one investigates the available data in the Federal Electoral Institute’s records, he or she will be surprised to find
that out of the 70 million plus persons who make up the official voter rolls, less than 5 percent are part of the actual recorded
party members in all officially registered political parties. In other words, there is an opportunity for political parties
and independent citizens to present ideas to be evaluated by a huge non-partisan audience that is uncommitted and open.
These figures, and the Institutional Revolutionary
Party’s (PRI) miserable performance, also invalidated the once firmly held notion of the “hard vote assumption.”
Mexico’s results in many state and local elections clearly demonstrate a real voter inclination, for unless voters were
seeking bureaucrat positions or promotions there were attempts to distance themselves from customary partisan corporative
The growing trend is for many voters to allow themselves
to be mobilized and wooed by party machines, only to eventually decide according to the person’s qualities and not his
or her party affiliation. Party officials, who are grudgingly accepting the fact that the best candidates they can muster
are not necessarily party members or unconditional supporters, are gradually recognizing this trend.
Considering the past election’s antagonistic
mood, and the post-election polarized spirit, the images of party politicians have been severely devalued in the eyes of the
electorate. Perhaps this may be one of Mexico’s most notable finds — finally recognizing and acknowledging that
public affairs should not be a politician’s exclusive field, but too a citizen responsibility.
The Mexican government and Mexico’s political
parties would do well in seizing the opportunity to analyze the available election data. Obstinately they may not find anything
that goes against their status quo and continue doing things as usual. Hopefully however they may realize that a long-awaited
reality check is due and necessary. They may even accept that they are only a part and not the whole solution to the country’s
public affairs and that some are better handled by citizens themselves, regardless of whether they are party or government
members or not.
A final important concept that should be done away
with is the notion that politics is a government and/or party exclusive. Most of the world’s successful societies recognize
the fact that politics is a social affair, and that everyone is a politician by devoting his or her efforts to the betterment
of their own individual fields.
Carlos Luken, a MexiData.info columnist, is
a Mexico-based businessman and consultant. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.