Monday, July 04, 2005

fears of voter intimidation failed to emerge


It all started with a cryptic two words painted on walls of Toluca neighborhoods: policia municipal. That was the entire message on that wall. It was obviously part of the governor election campaign. The colors, simple blue letters on white background, are trademark of the PAN. It just so happens that the PAN has lad the last two mayor´s of this prosperous industrial state capital. The PAN is tough on crime. Perhaps the intended meaning of the message was something like ¨We local police like the PAN stand on crime and hope that you support the PAN candidate for governor.

The rumors that then spread on the street is that the PAN wanted to steal the election and would do so by sending plain clothes policemen to every polling station, observing how people were voting, and threatening harm to the families of those who voted for the PRI. (There are apocryphal stories about this type of thing happening years ago, when it was the PRI in power and in control of the police.)

The poll workers seemed to be on the lookout for such threats. There were handmade signs saying "Your vote is private." When I walked into the police place two doors down from my house, and started taking pictures, one of the workers (who was not a neighbor, and therefore did not know me) challenged me, asking which party I was working for. When I explained that I was writing for this blog, he said there was no problem.

No one has reported any real instances of intimidation.

I think this who rumor may have been one of the factors (but not the major one) behind the PRI´s landslide victory. Voters now believe that elections are honest enough for them to stand up against presumed threats of intimidation. Mexican´s trust the system and expect that it will be honest. Just a decade ago, the attitude was submissive to the institutional power of the PRI, now no one can be allowed to intimidate them, not the PRI nor the PAN.

Real democracy has arrived.

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