23 | MAY | 2019

Dissatisfaction with political parties in Mexico, on the rise

Horacio Jiménez
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A total of 1,900,960 citizens annulled their vote on June 7 midterm elections.

Even though annulled votes reached 4.76% of the total on June 7, the promoters of the campaign on social networks said that the 1.9 million citizens that annulled their vote were not enough, because the minimum percentage to consider this option "successful" was 7%. 

They said that since the number of annulled votes was not higher than in 2009, citizens did not send a "strong" message to the system about their dissatisfaction with political parties and their candidates. 

According to the final tally of the National Electoral Institute (INE), the Labor Party (2.84%) and the Humanist Party (2.14%) lost their national register because they did not reach the minimum 3% required to keep it. However, the supporters of annulling votes would be able to form their own party, because they represented 4.76% of the total votes, i.e. 1,900,860 citizens. 

In 2009 the percentage of invalid votes to elect the 60th Legislature reached 5.39%, i.e. 1,839,917 votes, while in 2012 annulled votes for Congress reached 2,351,092, i.e. 4.85% of the total. 

José Antonio Crespo, political scientist at El Colegio de Mexico (Colmex), said that this campaign would have been successful if at least 7% of voters had annulled their vote, because this would have shown an overwhelming dissatisfaction with political parties. 

"The paradox is that apparently there was greater dissatisfaction with the government, the parties and the system in general, but this message was not conveyed through the polls except in Nuevo León and other states," Crespo said. 

He added that in the last election, abstention was lower than in 2009. 

In an interview with EL UNIVERSAL Denise Dresser, political scientist and one of the main promoters of annulling votes, said that the nearly two million citizens that annulled their vote represent the weariness and rejection of society towards political parties and the few options available. 

"Annulled votes were a wake up call, and I am glad 1.8 million people joined this campaign. However, those who opted for alternation should ask themselves what will happen in Sonora when a candidate that uses airplanes owned by entrepreneurs and ask them for favors comes to power, or in Guerrero, where citizens voted for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in alliance with the Green Party (PVEM)," said Dresser, who uploaded a video to YouTube  to promote this campaign. 

She added that annulling votes has been the fight of David against Goliath, because the idea goes against the party machine, against intellectuals who think that Mexico's democratic system is like the Swedish. However, if it was so "there wouldn't be such levels of abstention and annulled votes and we would have parties that are accountable and provide information to voters," she explained. 

Alberto Aziz Nassif, specialist of the Center for Research and Studies in Social Anthropology, said that the idea of annulling votes "emerged in 2009 and returned in this election." He added that even though annulling votes "is a respectable symbolic and moral punishment, it is ineffective" as long as it does not affect the economic interests of political parties. 

Alfonso Zárate, analyst, said that even though it is a clear symptom of the citizens' dissatisfaction, its ability to affect power distribution is minimum. He added that citizens should opt for voting for other parties instead. 

Jacqueline Peschard, former adviser of the INE, said that annulling votes represents "a general rejection of the entire system that carries an important symbolic message, but nothing else. It is better to vote to reward or punish a party," she added.


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