Difficult election for Mexico

Sunday’s midterm election in Mexico will make history. The political climate is heating up because of the boycott threats by teachers, violence against candidates, and uncertainty in the areas with heavy drug-trafficking presence. Add to this the President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration’s blunders to explain the profound frustration among Mexicans.

The novelty is that, as a result of political reform, for the first time there are 116 independent candidates, 22 of which seek the federal Chamber of Deputies. This is a positive development because it allows to escape the rigid party structure. Some candidates are serious and others not so much, but all of them are a vehicle for citizen involvement in searching for alternatives given the discredit of the traditional parties.

Education reform is also at the forefront of this election, and, ironically, the Los Pinos proposals ended up being used to blackmail the government. The national education workers’ union CNTE threatened to boycott the election in the states of Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca to block the process of teachers’ evaluation, a key piece of the reform.

What happened with the teachers only contributes to wear down Peña Nieto’s image after the disappearance of the 43 students and the government mismanagement of the case. What happened in Iguala, as well as Apatizangán and other places, put the spotlight on the incestuous relationship between power, death and impunity across Mexican institutions like the army.

At the same time, corruption suspicions reached the President and his inner circle with the “casa blanca” case. Again, underestimating the popular reaction left the leader off balance, and he even tried to justify his lack of integrity by labeling it an issue of culture and human condition. What’s working best for the president and his party is the lack of disciplined opposition. The left is divided and the right seems absorbed by making deals with the government.

It is not surprising that a low voter turnout is anticipated. Mexicans today share a strong and justified cynicism, distrust and impotence towards the political establishment. Let’s wait and see what the thermometer indicates after Sunday’s election.