On Sunday Mexicans cast their votes for the new president. It appeared that Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Enrique Peña Nieto would win with about 39 percent of the votes in his favor by the end of Sunday. Leftist opponent Andres Manuel López Obrador followed behind at about 32 percent of the vote.
Even with the strong numbers, over half of the ballot boxes used throughout the country will be reopened this week to allow election officials to recount those ballots. The BBC reports that under Mexican law, votes can be recounted under very specific conditions. These conditions include:
-Inconsistencies with the final tally reports
-The result shows a difference of one percentage point or less between the first and second-placed candidate
-All the votes in one ballot box are cast in favour of the same candidate.
Officials stated that these conditions were met for over 50 percent of the polling stations in the country. It appears that some ballots showed signs of inconsistencies, such as hard-to-read writing.
The recount will not include all of the votes throughout the country, contrary to leftist opponent López Obrador’s demands that all the votes be recounted due to fraudulent election practices. This same leftist politician also demanded a recount after current president, Felipe Calderon, won his seat back in 2006 by a half percentage point.
The calls for vote recounts caused massive tension in the country in 2006. Reuters points out that López Obrador called on supporters to protest the election results of that year choking the streets of Mexico City for days.
This year’s elections have also been marked by tensions from a variety of groups. While López Obrador has accused Peña Nieto of buying votes and unfairly slanting Mexican media to favor his platform, a Mexican student movement has also been very vocal in opposing Peña Nieto.
In the massive student protests held in Mexico City in May, marchers demanded a reform in election practices, stating that Peña Nieto was buying off the media in his favor. López Obrador and the student movement, some of which gathered around the leftist’s message, also accused Peña Nieto of buying votes with pre-paid shopping cards.
Though the PRI candidate has denied the accusations, AFP reporter Carlos Hamann notes that, “Voters in the presidential and legislative elections Sunday allegedly showed PRI officials cell phone pictures of their paper ballot to ‘prove’ they voted for the PRI, and received gift cards in return.” Some local Soriana chain stores were choked with high traffic and two of these stores were forced to close down after a rush of customers flooded them with these pre-paid cards.
Peña Nieto has continued to deny such vote-buying claims. Election officials hope to have the final recount completed as soon as Thursday. Many citizens worry that López Obrador’s insistence on a recount will only bring about more unrest like 2006 and drag out an uncomfortable election process that have left many leftists and protesters disheartened.
Photo of López Obrador: Hasselbladswc