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MEXICAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION July 3, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in LATIN AMERICA.
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The count of the Mexican presidential election seems to be still in progress. A fast count and the results from exit polls seem to favour Enrique Pena Nieto of the PRI.

Some surprisingly, given multiple candidates, the election appears to be based on first past the post, and the winning candidates does not have to attack the majority of the votes. Nor is there a run-off election. Just guessing that might be a good part of the reason why the election outcome is so contested.

The BBC reports:

Mexico’s old ruling party, the PRI, is set to return to power as early official results indicate its candidate Enrique Pena Nieto has won the presidential election.

Mr Pena Nieto, 45, is on about 37%, several points ahead of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has not conceded.

Thousands of police were on duty for the vote, amid fears of intimidation from drug gangs.

Mexicans were also electing a new congress and some state governors.

After what was, by and large, an orderly and peaceful vote, the partial result from the country’s electoral authorities appears to confirm that it was Mr Pena Nieto’s night.

The election campaign was dominated by the economy and the war on drugs.

“There will be no pact nor truce with organised crime,” Mr Pena Nieto said.

He had been presented as the new face of the PRI, a break with the party’s long and at times murky past that included links with drug gangs.

The party held on to power for 71 years until it was defeated in 2000.

Mr Pena Nieto built his reputation on the “pledges” he set out for his governorship in Mexico state, focusing on public works and improvement of infrastructure.

Outgoing President Felipe Calderon has congratulated Mr Pena Nieto and promised to work with him during the transition to his inauguration in December.

. . . Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, running for the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) is in second place with about 32% of the vote.

The official quick count, published by the electoral authorities (IFE), is based on returns from a sample of around 7,500 polling stations across Mexico and has a 0.5% margin of error.

Mr Lopez Obrador, who was the runner-up in the 2006 election, has not conceded victory.

The economy and drug cartel related violence were the election issues and the problems for the incoming President. The issue of drugs, related to demand and supply, has cross-border implications. There is reported to have been 50,000 drug related deaths in the last six years. Former President Felipe Calderon’s use of the army seems to have made things worst.

Prior to the election results The LA Times editorialized:

Mexico’s troubles have no easy fix. Corruption, drug violence, weak institutions and disregard for the rule of law are pervasive. Whichever candidate is elected must recognize that public safety isn’t the military’s job. Soldiers are no replacement for an honest, professional police force. The next president should increase the size of Mexico’s federal police — a relatively new force that currently stands at 40,000 officers and that, unlike the state and local police, isn’t saddled with a reputation for corruption and incompetence. Nor is it feared by the poor.

And though Calderon’s war against the cartels has so far failed to cripple them, his pursuit of judicial and constitutional reforms made sense. His successor should push to ensure that those changes, including moving from an inquisitorial judicial system to an adversarial one, are achieved.

The winner of Sunday’s elections will inherit the thorny problems that frustrated Calderon. But the new president will have lessons to draw from that can help guide Mexico out of its bloody war.

Al Jazeera’s Inside Story Americas gives some of the background:

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