Thousands of people all over Mexico marched peacefully to speak out against the alleged buying of votes by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whose candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, won the presidential election with just 38.2% of the popular vote while challenger Andrés Manuel López Obrador got 31.6% of the vote.
The PRI ruled Mexico from 1929-2000, with a culture of corruption and repression that still lingers in the Mexican consciousness. Vote-buying that takes advantage of poor Mexicans is a tradition with the PRI. “Politicians are preying on peoples’ needs in a way that demeans the quality of their vote,” said Selee, director of the Washington-based center’s Mexico Institute. “It’s always a problem when people see their vote as a tool to get concrete benefits and not as a way of setting long-term policy.”
The president of Mexico is elected to a six-year term, and which ever candidate gets the most votes wins, even if they do not achieve a majority, which is what happened on July 1 when Pena Nieta was elected with 38.2 percent of the vote. Votes were divided among four candidates with none capturing a majority.
This set the stage for massive protests as 62% of the country did not vote for Peña Nieto and an angry and frustrated electorate is responding with a legal challenge to invalidate the election.
Social media played a key role in sharing stories of the demonstrations almost immediately. Such is the case of one PRI supporter, Juan Pablo Franzonly, who was captured on Facebook pointing a gun at protesters. These were two images that were being circulated: One of the images shows the man pointing a gun at the marchers from a balcony and firing.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, 58, who lost to Pena Nieto has accused the PRI of buying millions of votes using tactics that included giving away bank cards from Monex Grupo Financiero SA and gift certificates from Organizacion Soriana SAB. He said yesterday he’s filing a legal challenge to invalidate the election results, which he called unconstitutional. The electoral tribunal, which has final authority over voting results, has until Sept. 6 to decide on the case and announce the president elect.
In our opinion, with all of the violations that we have seen, it is impossible to describe these elections as free and fair," said Ricardo Mejia, the spokesman for Lopez Obrador's legal team preparing the challenge, according to Reuters.