Liberty. It’s a simple idea, but it’s also the linchpin of a complex system of values and practices: justice, prosperity, responsibility, toleration, cooperation, and peace. Many people believe that liberty is the core political value of modern civilization itself, the one that gives substance and form to all the other values of social life. They’re called libertarians.
Monday, July 2, 2012
Weary Voters Turn to Party of Mexico’s Past, Polls Say
MEXICO CITY — The party that ruled Mexico
for decades with an autocratic grip appears to have vaulted back into
power after 12 years in opposition, as voters troubled by a bloody drug war and economic malaise gave its presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, a comfortable victory on Sunday, according to preliminary returns and exit polls.
Voters lined up in the rain outside a polling station in Xochimilco, south of Mexico City. More Photos »
The victory was a stunning reversal of fortune for the centrist
Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, which was thought
to be crippled after its defeat in the 2000 presidential election
ushered in an era of real multiparty democracy here.
Buoyed by a strong machine across several states, by the youthful
Mr. Peña Nieto’s capture of the television spotlight and by voters’
unhappiness with the direction of the country, the PRI defeated both the
incumbent conservative party and the candidate who nearly beat the
conservatives last time.
But Mexican voters also seemed hesitant to give the party total control:
the PRI-led coalition in congress seemed to have lost seats, and it
will not have majority control, according to the Monday morning vote
Mr. Peña’s apparent margin of victory — about 6 percent with 92
percent of the vote tallied — also looked to be about half what most
polls suggested before election day, with the leftist party enjoying a
late surge. “It was a good night for the PRI because they recaptured the
presidency but it was not the devastating knockout punch some
predicted,” said Eric Olson, an analyst with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. ¨They will do well to keep that in mind as they begin to form their government and rule.”
A “quick count” based on a sampling of returns from across the country,
announced by election officials late Sunday night, showed Mr. Peña Nieto
with 38 to 39 percent of the vote and a 7-point lead over Andrés Manuel
López Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor who lost narrowly in 2006 and
is a member of the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution.
By Monday morning, Mr. Peña Nietos’s lead had narrowed slightly, to
around 5 percentage points, and Mr. Lopez Obrador had not yet conceded.
He said late Sunday night that he would wait for complete vote tallies in the coming days. ¨The final word has not been said,¨he told supporters.
In 2006 Mr. Lopez Obrador refused for 48 days to accept defeat and led street demonstrations demanding a full recount.
The conservative candidate, Josefina Vázquez Mota, a former cabinet
secretary who sought to become Mexico’s first woman president, was
running third with 25 to 26 percent. Earlier in the evening, exit polls
released by several news organizations pointed to similar results,
though with a somewhat wider lead for Mr. Peña Nieto.
He addressed supporters shortly before midnight, repeatedly saying that
“Mexico won,” promising to govern openly and with accountability, and
trying to knock down any suggestion that he would reach accommodations
with criminal groups, as his party has been accused of doing in the
“There will be no deals or truce with organized crime,” he said.
Though Mr. Peña Nieto was declared the winner and President Felipe
Calderón telephoned to congratulate him, the preliminary results
suggested that he had not won an unequivocal mandate, garnering fewer
than half the total votes and trailing in some of the most
Ms. Vázquez Mota made a concessionary speech soon after the polls
closed. Without mentioning Mr. Peña Nieto directly, she alluded to
concerns about the PRI, saying she would continue to fight against “the return of authoritarianism, of corrupt rule, impunity and capitulating to organized crime.”
Mr. Peña Nieto, who has visited Washington and New York several times in
the past year to introduce himself to lawmakers and opinion leaders,
has promised more efficient, expanded trade with the United States and
predicted that relations would be strong. But Washington will be
watching closely for any hint of his administration’s easing the
pressure on drug traffickers.
In his campaign, he promised to refocus the drug war more on combating
the violence afflicting Mexicans, and hardly mentioned attacking drug
trafficking itself or taking down cartel leaders.
That stance might have been meant to distance him from Mr. Calderón,
whose militarized approach to the drug war left many Mexicans uneasy
over the heavy civilian toll — more than 50,000 drug war-related deaths
in recent years — and eager for a better strategy. Mr. Calderón
acknowledged Mr. Peña Nieto’s victory in remarks late Sunday night.