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Irregularities Reveal Mexico's Election Far from Fair

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The media rewrites history every day, and in so doing, it often impedes our understanding of the present. Mexico's presidential election of a week ago is a case in point. Press reports tell us that Felipe Calderon, the outgoing president from the PAN (National Action party), "won the 2006 election by a narrow margin".

But this is not quite true, and without knowing what actually happened in 2006, it is perhaps more difficult to understand the widespread skepticism of the Mexican people toward the results of the current election. The official results show Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) candidate Enrique Pena Nieto winning 38.2% of the vote, to 31.6% for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and 25.4% for Josefina Vazquez Mota of the PAN. It does not help that the current election has been marred by widespread reports of vote-buying. From the Washington Post:

 "'It was neither a clean nor fair election,' said Eduardo Huchim of the Civic Alliance, a Mexican watchdog group funded by the United Nations Development Program.

 "'This was bribery on a vast scale,' said Huchim, a former [Federal Electoral Institute] official. 'It was perhaps the biggest operation of vote-buying and coercion in the country's history.'"

It may not have been enough to swing the presidential race, but for those who know what actually happened in 2006, the voters' lack of faith in the results is completely understandable. The official margin of difference between Calderon and Lopez Obrador of the PRD, who was also the PRD's nominee in the 2006 election, was 0.58%. But there were massive irregularities.