MS Risk Blog

Mexico’s Legislative Elections: Lives and Power Lost

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During Mexico’s mid-term legislative elections this week, various instances of violence towards those running for power have been committed from criminal gangs routed in altering and changing the results of the elections in their favour. These attacks, violent in their nature, have become increasingly common in the country particularly around election time.

The elections have been seen as a challenge for current left-leaning leader Obrador, who is currently halfway through his 6-year term and will test popular support for his Fourth Transformation reformist project. Criticisms toward the government regarding their handling of the COVID 19 pandemic as well as the rise in violence and criminality in the country could potentially harm the high approval ratings that the President has already been previously having.

Mexican cartels have been seen using bribery and violence to try and influence many of the elections that have been occurring across the country, with some reporting that up to 90 people have been killed, while others saying that deaths could have been up to 150. Mexican authorities have logged 398 threats or attacks on candidates since campaigning started on the 6th of April.

At a voting station in the border city of Tijuana, a man has been reported to have thrown a severed head as well as leaving plastic bags filled with body parts nearby. The man ran away according to authorities, and it is unconfirmed whether he has been captured or not. Elsewhere on voting day, someone has been reported to of thrown an inactive grenade into a voting station in Mexico state.

Another incident involving union leader Alberto Alonso, who was running for mayor in the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco shot repeatedly just 200 metres from his home. After leaving his home and driving in his car, a motorcycle closed in and pulled out a handgun, shooting his car. Alonso’s bodyguard fired back which forced the attackers to flee, luckily, he escaped physical harm but had to be admitted to the hospital for stress reasons.

Campaigning has since been suspended in various municipalities around the country because of the violence and even the ruling Morena party stopped campaigning in the southern part of the state of Mexico after an ambush in March had killed 13 police officers.

Despite the President’s attempts to protect candidates, the attacks are frequent and ongoing, and the criminal cartels feel there are no repercussions for their actions, so they feel free to carry on. In areas like Guerrero, south of Mexico City, a lot of the violence takes place. President Obrador has accused the media of sensationalising the murders to demoralise the government’s efforts, despite the attacks being malicious and ongoing, with many innocent lives lost.

Following the elections results President Obrador’s coalition hung on to its control of Congress, despite losing its majority in the lower house. Also, his Morena party lost leadership in half of the 16 boroughs in the capital. Despite this, they were still the biggest party in the elections and captured enough seats to form a majority with its allies, not the worst situation for Obrador but it is a slight contrast from his landslide victory 3 years ago.

With political killings being an ongoing issue in Mexico it seems little has changed in the country. Despite the President’s pledges when first elected to reduce the violence, the events during the mid-term elections prove that there is much still to be done to resolve this issue.