Federal Electoral Watchdog, Political Parties Already Looking beyond Key Mexico State Election on July 3

Article excerpt

The all-important gubernatorial election in Mexico state is just days away, but attention has already turned to the presidential and congressional elections scheduled for July 2012. In what is considered an important step to ensure fairness in next year's races, the federal electoral watchdog (Instituto Federal Electoral, IFE) issued a controversial set of rules governing radio and television spots. The new measure, intended to promote a more fair debate among the various candidates, reduces the time by which media outlets are required to air an advertisement after it is turned in by a political campaign. The IFE is also looking to increase voting by expatriates in the 2012 election, particularly those residing in the US, by launching a big campaign to encourage participation. This includes streamlining the mail-balloting process and providing postage-free envelopes.

Political parties are also looking ahead to the 2012 elections, with the two top contenders to head a center-left coalition, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Marcelo Ebrard, agreeing that the candidate who is in the better position in the polls obtain the nomination. The center-left coalition, led by the Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD), has been deeply divided, and the agreement is an effort to unite factions ahead of the elections.

The Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) appears to be consolidating support behind outgoing Mexico state Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto, whose fortunes could receive a boost from the upcoming Mexico state election. If polls are any indication of the final result, PRI candidate Eruviel Avila is expected to win the election easily over rivals Alejandro Encinas of the center-left Coalicion Unidos Podemos Mas and Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of the conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN).

Campaign launched to boost expatriate vote

The IFE's decision to facilitate the vote for Mexican expatriates in the US and elsewhere was met with strong approval from all parties. During the past several months, the institute has issued various guidelines to make it easier for Mexican citizens to vote in the 2012 federal election. One directive, announced in April, stipulates that voters could post their ballot as early as 75 days before the election, scheduled for July 1, 2012.

To participate in the election, voters must register via a special Web site created by the IFE, http://www.votoextranjero.mx/. The site also contains instructions and answers questions for expatriates seeking to participate in the election. Voters whose registration is confirmed will receive a ballot in the mail between April 16 and May 20. To encourage participation, the IFE will provide postage-free envelopes.

IFE officials said they are making every effort to ensure that as many eligible voters as possible participate in the elections. As part of this effort, the IFE dispatched Benito Nacif Hernandez, president of a special commission to foster relations with expatriate voters (Comision del Voto de los Mexicanos Residentes en el Extranjero), to present the voting plan to various immigrant associations in the US. The IFE will be working closely with Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico's ambassador to the US, to help boost the vote.

In the 2006 election, the IFE sent out almost 41,000 ballots to expatriates. Slightly more than 33,000 were returned to the institute, a figure that officials described as disappointing SourceMex, Jan. 25, 2006. The number of total votes cast is slightly higher than the number of Mexicans estimated to reside in New York City, said the IFE.

Nacif Hernandez said the IFE is working with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) to develop other options to facilitate the vote, including greater use of the Internet. "We have been in contact with the UNAM, and the university is taking a great interest in the project," said the IFE council member.

New guidelines on broadcast spots cause controversy

The promotion of voting overseas is not as controversial as other initiatives recently enacted by the IFE ahead of the 2012 election. …