Mexican voters go to the polls in biggest election ever

Voters will decide all of the 500 deputies in the lower house of Congress as well as state governors. Thousands of state and local officials and mayors will also compete at the polls.

And although President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is not up for election, the vote is largely an assessment of his program.

Here’s what you need to know about voting.

The greatest election ever

Mexico’s 32 states hold local and federal votes, with representatives from all levels of government being elected.

The number of people voting is also higher than ever: 95 million citizens have registered to vote, up from 89 million in 2018, according to the Mexican Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The coronavirus crisis will also mark the elections. Voters are urged to wear a mask and respect social distancing. The National Electoral Institute, which oversees the elections, told voters they were welcome to bring their own pens.

Polling stations will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, with the count beginning shortly after the polls close. The first results are expected on Monday, but the final results will not be officially certified until 23 August.

The man at the center

Yes, there are a lot of candidates, but the vote is also the appreciation of a man who does not show up, President López Obrador.

Morena, the party he created in 2014, hopes to retain a majority in Congress. But it is still unclear whether he will be able to secure a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, or whether he will have to rely on the support of his allies in the Greens and the Labor Party.

Morena holds a majority in both houses of Congress. And the party is closely following the agenda of its populist founder, promising to root out corruption and reduce poverty, while fighting for social justice and equality.

In López Obrador’s ideal world, the party would get more than two-thirds of the seats in the lower house – that kind of majority would allow him to push constitutional reforms forward.

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AMLO has already succeeded in tightening its grip on power. It increased government control over the electricity grid and reduced the powers of some independent watchdogs. He also extended the term of a Supreme Court judge for two years.

Critics have warned that he may try to reshape the Mexican constitution so that he can run in a future election, despite current law limiting Mexican presidents to a single six-year term. López Obrador has denied the accusation, saying he will retire at the end of his term.

What does the opposition say?

Meanwhile, the opposition will seek to capitalize on voter dissatisfaction with the economy and the government’s handling of the pandemic.

The three largest political parties – the National Action Party (PAN), the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) – have joined forces to create a legislative coalition which they believe will be a counterweight to AMLO. and his Morena party.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends the daily briefing at Palacio Nacional on May 28, 2021 in Mexico City, Mexico.

At a press conference last month, the leaders of the three parties focused on the current administration’s management of the economy, security, health care, the balance of power and actions. which, according to them, lead to “the disqualification of the autonomous bodies of our country”.

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Mexico has recorded more than 2.4 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 228,000 deaths, one of the highest tolls in the world. At the height of the crisis in January, nearly 30 public hospitals in the hardest-hit Mexico City reported reaching 100% capacity. López Obrador himself was infected with the virus at that time.

Mexico’s immunization program is lagging behind – only 18% of people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to official data collected by Our World in Data.

The country’s economy was shaking even before the pandemic hit, but the virus slumped its GDP by 8.2% last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In the throes of violence

The government is deploying 100,000 National Guard troops to secure elections after a campaign that has been plagued by violence. Political violence tends to go hand in hand with elections in Mexico, but this has been a particularly gruesome year.

At least 88 politicians and election candidates have been killed since last September, according to Mexican consultancy Etellekt Consultores.

They are part of a group of at least 565 politicians or candidates who have been targeted by some sort of crime, according to the cabinet.

Natalie Gallón, Matt Rivers and Fidel Gutierrez of CNN in Mexico City contributed reporting.

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