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Friday, September 08, 2006 

Mexico's Electoral Court Downplays Irregularities

¡Pobre México! Tan lejos de Dios, y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos.
(Poor Mexico! So far from God, and so close to the United States.)
—General Porfirio Díaz, President of Mexico, 1877–1911


It seems Mexico has been hit by the Orwellian PAN rules - some pigs are more equal than others. In its final ruling, Mexico's electoral court (TEPJF) acknowledged there were illegal campaign interference from President Vicente Fox and the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE). They state that both Fox and the CCE showed favoritism towards candidate Felipe Calderónthe of the ruling National Action Party (PAN).

They recognized that the attack ads used against Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) were illegal, however, they pointed out that the AMLO had used the same tactics. Nevertheless, in the end, the seven-judge panel firmly stated that none of the irregularities was significant enough to have significantly altered the outcome of the election.
The unappealable ruling handed down by the electoral court, which in its 10 years of existence has never been accused of bias, details each of the irregularities that were found, but says that their impact was not strong enough to justify annulling the elections.
Where the Orwellian rules enter is the fact TEPJF had previously ruled to annull two provincial governor race. In TEPJF landmark cases, the Tabasco election the court determined there were "grave irregularities." They found there that vote buying existed and there was greater coverage produced for the PRI candidate by the state-owned television network.

The court had also rejected the allegations that López Obrador received unfair treatment by the media, and that the Fox administration manipulated government social programmes to benefit Calderón.
With regard to the alleged misuse of government social programmes, the electoral court found that in more than half of the municipalities where local residents benefit from the aid plans, López Obrador triumphed, while the winner in the country's 15 poorest municipalities was Roberto Madrazo, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled the country from 1929 to 2000, but came in third in the July elections.
In a mid August El Universal poll, those living in Mexico City 59% felt that the election was stolen. After decades of a one-party rule sustained with fraudulent elections, it is not surprising that many Mexicans have a deep distrust of their own institutions and courts.

According to Reforma columnist, Miguel Granados, the judges decision to downplay the irregularities, has now sent clear message that "illegalities are good business." I have to agree to his assessment. There was clear evidence of voter fraud had occurred in which the election court has chose to ignore. What would does it take to prove fraud? If more than half of the tally sheets from the nation's 130,000 election precincts contained errors in arithmetic, how can one make a judgement that it is due to widespread "incompetence" among poll workers? How does one explain ballots magically appearing and disappearing?

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