Did Mexico’s PRI political party purchase votes that allowed Enrique Peña Nieto to win Sunday’s presidential election? This was the accusation made by runner-up Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a press conference on Friday afternoon.
“We will prove the hypothesis that (the PRI) brought votes,” said the Progressive Movement candidate.
López Obrador referred to allegations that the PRI gave away pre-paid gift cards that thousands of Mexico City residents tried to redeem this week.
“The buying of votes in a municipality or a town can be covered up but we’re referring to the massive purchase of votes through these cards”, alleged López Obrador.
He also attacked Mexico’s main media entities for mounting a “propaganda” campaign favoring Peña Nieto and accused the defeated PAN party of “colluding” with the PRI by not “defending the vote.”
Peña Nieto claimed earlier this week that “there are no grounds” behind the accusations of vote buying and that the allegations are part of a “campaign of finger pointing.” According to Bloomberg, however, Mexico’s electoral commission might not agree with Peña Nieto’s assessment:
Standing outside a closed Soriana store in Mexico City, Rogelio Garcia said people wearing PRI T-shirts came to his home last week and put a party sticker on his front door in exchange for two gift cards worth a total of 2,300 pesos ($172). The retailer has denied any involvement in the card distribution, and the PRI has denied any vote-buying."We need electoral authorities to conduct a detailed review of campaign spending that obviously exceeded legal limits, and that was also associated with vote buying," said losing PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota. Yet the former minister who finished a disappointing third stopped short of calling for the invalidating of election results.
“The woman said she came on behalf of the PRI,” Garcia said. “People said, ‘don’t take it,’ but why not? I voted for whomever I wanted in the end”…
The number of cards involved in the allegations, at least 9,000, “could make it more probable to formulate that a crime of buying or forcing votes was committed,” said Ricardo Becerra, a coordinator for IFE’s advisers.
López Obrador said that he would seek a legal challenge against the election results but it might be too little too late. The official tally of the ballots by electoral officials confirmed the victory of Peña Nieto with more than 38% of the vote. The official count included individual ballot recounts in 54.5% of the country's electoral districts.
Video Sources – YouTube via Univision, Al Jazeera English
Online Sources – Excelsior, Bloomberg, Univision.com, CNN, Milenio, New Zealand Herald, Christian Science Monitor