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In Mexico, it’s pesos for your vote

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-07-11

In an exclusive report by FRANCE 24 journalists Laurence Cuvillier and Matthieu Comin, Mexican voters describe incidents of election fraud during the runup to the country’s July 1 presidential elections.

More than a week after Mexico headed to the polls for the country’s presidential ballot, not even this weekend’s partial vote recount over the weekend has been enough to quell allegations of election fraud. In an exclusive report by FRANCE 24 journalists Laurence Cuvillier and Matthieu Comin, voters in Mexico openly state they received up to 80 euros in gifts in exchange for their support of the country’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

“They get in touch with us and ask us to get a group of people together. The payment comes later”, voter Adriana Carrillo said matter-of-factly to the camera. To Carrillo, who supports PRI, the practice is “very normal”. Other PRI supporters say they were given a kilo of eggs, beans and rice each month in exchange for registering with the party’s local headquarters.

PRI has flatly denied the allegations. According to Gérardo Garcia, a PRI campaign coordinator, not a single person was given “a penny” for their support.

In Mexico, vote-buying is considered a criminal offense. Yet after decades of election fraud, many have simply become used to the practice, giving some the impression that the country could almost be defined as an empty democracy or the perfect dictatorship.

FRANCE 24 journalist Cuvillier, however, is quick to note that “These practices are not exclusive to the PRI”, adding that fraud is rampant even in local elections.

But for Mexico’s Federal Election Institute (IFE), uncovering and proving election fraud can be very difficult. The IFE functions very much in the same way as a policing body, and is completely dependent on the public to come forth with any complaints before it can launch an investigation. If incidents of vote-buying have been observed, but are deemed to have had little impact on a polling station’s results, then no action is taken.

Although voters expressed enough concern about July 1’s elections for the IFE to recount more than half of the ballot boxes used in the poll, PRI presidential candidate Pena Nieto still came out the winner with 38.21 percent of the vote. Many, however, view the recount as perfunctory, and have criticised election authorities for not delving deeper into allegations of fraud. Prior to the recount, the student-led YoSoy132 movement announced that it would not recognise the election results because of the widespread irregularities.

Although Nieto declared victory late on July 8, the IFE has said that the courts have until September to examine incidents of fraud.

Date created : 2012-07-10

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