Abstentionism Wins by a Landslide Across Oaxaca

August 5th, 2007 – South Notes writes: Contrary to the expectations and preoccupations of many, election day here in Oaxaca City was pretty much uneventful. So much so, that most voters opted to miss out on “the big event” itself…the act of voting.

Although the preliminary results are still being tallied, it’s already apparent that the big winner in today’s legislative elections is “none of the above”. At just after midnight local time, the State Electoral Institute showed that 75% of the electorate chose not to vote today. [Note: That number may change as more ballots are tallied.]

A couple of commercial radio stations were running special election coverage today. Time and again, the call-in reports from the field consisted of lamentations about the dismal voter turn-out, coupled with pleas from the reporters to the apathetic electorate of come on out to their polling stations and cast a ballot. The polling stations that I went by were pretty empty, aside from the workers.

Many political analysts were expecting today’s legislative election in Oaxaca to be hotly disputed. The 2006 popular uprising against the governor (and the old-school PRI machinery he represents) is fresh in the minds of many. The APPO had called for the “punishment vote” against the PRI and PAN…a call that resulted in a crushing defeat for both parties during the 2006 presidential and congressional elections.

The PRI (which has ruled Oaxaca uninterrupted for nearly 80 years) is a formidable opponent for any party…and despite demonstrations of widespread disgust with the PRI system, there’s a reason that PRI rule in Mexico used to be called “the perfect dictatorship”.

I had a discussion before election day with someone who has repeatedly expressed frustration with the political machinery in Oaxaca. I thought for sure this person would go straight to a polling station first thing in the morning to cast a “punishment vote”. Wrong. There were no plans to vote. Why? The response I got, I think is probably representative of many eligible voters who stayed home today: “In 2004, I went and cast my vote for [then-candidate for governor] Gabino Cue. My vote was stolen, as was the election. Then, in 2006, I went out and voted for [then presidential contender] Lopez Obrador. My vote was stolen, as was the election. This election season, I’m going to stay home and not get robbed. It’s just not worth it if you already know what’s going to happen.”

That’s the thing about these kind of elections under the party-machine system. You can always count on the hard-core supporters of the status quo to come out…while those who no longer believe in the system refuse to validate it with their participation. The double irony is that the disaffected are both the big winners and the big losers of today’s election.

Preliminary numbers show that the PRI has won in every single district.

source: southnotes.org