Earlier this month, I covered the results of the Mexican presidential elections wherein Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) seemingly won the election by a landslide — that is until allegations of widespread corruption, electoral manipulation and vote buying began to surface.
Identical to his reaction after the 2006 elections, runner-up Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution challenged the election results. As part of a formal complaint, Obrador said he would provide evidence of his opponent’s excessive campaign spending to electoral officials.
Meanwhile, some of the largest demonstrations in the country’s history continue with the Yo Soy 132 student-led movement. Originally formed in opposition to the PRI and biased media coverage of the election, the movement is evolving into a full-blown revolt.
Members have unveiled a summary of their own report on the July 1 elections that they will present to authorities. In it, they document more than 1,100 irregularities on election day, the most common of which was the buying of votes and voter credentials. Violations of a ban on campaigning in the days leading up to the election were also reported and even complaints of burnt and stolen ballot boxes were confirmed by video footage, photos, and witnesses.
The Yo Soy 132 movement gathered the majority of complaints through its network of volunteers stationed at voting polls across the country, but also received reports from citizens via social media. All of the complaints were analyzed by a separate commission and only those that passed a verification process were included in the report in order to ensure reliability.
The students allege that the report presents enough irregularities to declare the July 1 elections a “profoundly undemocratic” process.
There is something unique about Yo Soy 132. It’s not the movement’s utilization of social media – similar to that of the Occupy Wall Street movement – that has allowed it to garner global support in places like New York and Paris. Indeed, social media is now an integral part of any of the numerous protests happening around the world.
Rather, it was the movement’s ability to organize and host its own presidential debate and broadcast it to millions of viewers online, something unimaginable in American politics. Using webcams, students from across the country were able to ask the candidates questions that were not raised in previous debates — substantial questions regarding the drug-related violence, foreign policy and the corporate structure of the media.
Although the debate’s structure and format lent itself to some logistical and technical obstacles, it was largely successful. The Yo Soy 132 movement effectively created a new precedent for the level of engagement between people and their politicians.
The impact that engagement will have on Peña Nieto’s recent election remains to be seen.