Mexico’s mid-term elections on Sunday have been marred by one of its bloodiest campaigns, even in a country known for its drug cartel wars and soaring homicides.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s governing National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party and its allies are hoping to head off an opposition challenge and keep their majority in the lower house of Congress.
But in recent weeks, Mexican media have been running daily stories of threats, kidnappings, attacks and murders committed against candidates, campaign aides and election officials, that have mostly been blamed on the country’s powerful drug cartels and crime groups that permeate local politics.
The cartels – or the “party of organised crime” as government officials call them – have been using bribery and violence to try to influence many of the election races, seeking to lever in candidates favourable to their interests.
Some observers conservatively report an election campaign toll of nearly 90 killed, but others say the number of election-related homicides is closer to 150.
“The election is 6 June, but [organised] crime has already voted,” commentator Paola Rojas wrote in leading Mexican daily El Universal on 31 May.
Pandemic handling will be judged
On the political front, Sunday’s elections are being viewed as a referendum on the leftist rule of 67-year-old López Obrador, who is popularly known by his initials, Amlo.
The Mexican leader is half way through his six-year term, and the vote will test popular support for his so-called 4T (Fourth Transformation) reformist government project aimed at ending the privileges and corruption of Mexican elites and improving the lot of ordinary citizens.
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