Bloomberg News

Mexico Court Dismisses Challenges to Pena Nieto Election Victory

August 31, 2012

Mexico’s highest electoral authority voted to dismiss a court action that sought to void the results of the July 1 presidential vote, clearing the final hurdle for ratifying Enrique Pena Nieto’s victory.

The electoral tribunal rejected runner-up Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s demand to invalidate the results based on allegations Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, bought millions of votes with gift cards and used campaign funds from illegal sources, creating unequal voting conditions.

“It can be concluded that the free vote wasn’t affected,” said Maria del Carmen Alanis Figueroa, one of the electoral court’s seven justices, in Mexico City late yesterday. Lopez Obrador’s coalition failed to present “objective” proof of vote buying and coercion, she said.

The tribunal’s justices unanimously voted to dismiss Lopez Obrador’s challenge.

Pena Nieto, who won the election by about 3.3 million votes, will return the PRI to power after a 12-year hiatus from more than seven decades of uninterrupted rule. While under Mexican electoral law offers of cash and gifts are illegal when a party asks for a vote in return, such practices aren’t listed in the constitution as a valid reason for voiding an election. The electoral tribunal has until Sept. 6 to formally name Pena Nieto president elect.

Protests

Hundreds of protesters confronted police and broke through a barricade outside the courthouse yesterday as the judges made their arguments. Thousands have marched in the streets against the results in the weeks leading up to the decision, and students are planning more protests today.

The ruling National Action Party of outgoing President Felipe Calderon joined Lopez Obrador’s Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, in alleging the PRI bought votes and exceeded campaign financing limits. The PRI has denied any wrongdoing.

PRD President Jesus Zambrano said Aug. 29 that any decision reached this week would be “irregular” given that the judges haven’t reviewed all of the evidence brought by his party.

Pena Nieto, who is scheduled to take office Dec. 1, has pledged to overhaul the economy, including plans to open the state-owned oil monopoly to more private participation.

A recount last month of more than half of ballots cast confirmed that Pena Nieto won the election with 38.2 percent of the votes against 31.6 percent for Lopez Obrador.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nacha Cattan in Mexico City at ncattan@bloomberg.net; Eric Martin in Mexico City at emartin21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net


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