News Release

Dirty Tricks Cloud Mexico’s Elections


While some media outlets are claiming that Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Enrique Peña Nieto has been confirmed the winner of the Mexican election, experts on the ground note that this betrays a lack of appreciation for the rules in Mexican elections. For example, a Reuters headline reads “Final Mexican Results Confirming Pena Nieto Win” and the New York Times ran an op-ed identifying him as “president-elect of Mexico.”

LAURA CARLSEN, carlsenster at
Carlsen is director of the Mexico-based Americas program of the Center for International Policy. She said today: “Although President Obama and others called to congratulate Enrique Peña Nieto on his victory in Mexico’s presidential elections, election authorities have not officially declared a winner and are recounting votes in the midst of massive evidence of fraud and violations of electoral law. That’s the way the law works, even proof of violations is unlikely to revert Peña Nieto’s current lead of six points. However, the new president, if validated, will take power under the cloud of accusations that his party, the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party], is up to the same dirty tricks it employed to retain power for 71 years. …

“Although the PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto seems to have won with a relatively wide margin over his closest contender, center-left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the process was stained by old-style PRI tactics of vote-buying, coercion, manipulation of the media and other dirty tricks that have been documented by civil society organizations and independent media. Mexico once again faces a crisis in its political system, as a large part of the population believes the elections were not fair or legal and rejects a return to a political system that blocked democracy for decades. Newly mobilized youth in the ‘I am 132’ movement, human rights organizations and the left are awaiting official results and analyzing the elections before announcing their response. Mainstream media celebration of the Mexican elections that ignores the deep popular discontent with the return of the PRI and the multiple anomalies documented before and during the elections has proved to be premature.”

IRMA ERÉNDIRA SANDOVAL, irma.erendira at
Irma Eréndira Sandoval is professor of political science and coordinator of the Anti-Corruption Laboratory at the National Autonomous University.

JOHN MILL ACKERMAN, johnmill.ackerman at
Professor at the Institute for Legal Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Ackerman said today: “I’m not surprised that some media are reporting that Enrique Peña Nieto has been confirmed the winner of the election, but that’s just not correct. The Electoral Tribunal still needs to consider all the complaints and they haven’t even received them yet.

He just wrote the piece “Obama Plays Risky Game in Mexico With Embrace of Enrique Peña Nieto,” which states: “The Mexican people are more stunned than excited by Enrique Peña Nieto’s apparent victory in Sunday’s presidential election. No one has taken to the streets to celebrate the return of the old Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI). To the contrary, thousands of youth congregated at the Revolution Monument in downtown Mexico City to protest against the “imposition” of Peña Nieto through media manipulation, vote-buying, and ballot-tampering. Meanwhile, waves of people who sold their vote to the PRI on Sunday in exchange for gift cards flooded local supermarkets on Monday to cash in on their payments… It is likely that Peña Nieto’s advantage in the preliminary count, 38 percent to leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s 32 percent, will hold up once the official count is issued at the end of the week and the electoral tribunal later resolves any lawsuits. But the formal, legal recognition of Peña Nieto as Mexico’s new president will not necessarily translate into the public legitimacy he would need to govern the country effectively… It is time for U.S. diplomacy toward Mexico to branch out to include the political opposition, Congress, civil society, and the common person. Military aid also should be replaced, perhaps entirely, with support for infrastructure and the economy. Instead of helping Mexico’s old guard reestablish the ways of the past, the U.S. should help the Mexican people protect the gains of the present.”