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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A facade of democracy

    Courtney Smithwire editor
    Courtney Smith
    wire editor

    S

    even decades of dominance. Seven decades of depravity, corruption and repression of dissent. Seven decades of deception. For seven decades, Mexico knew nothing but the political hegemony of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). This reign of the PRI party came to an end in 2000 with the election of oppositional party member Vicente Fox. The election of Fox was to mark the beginning of a fledgling Mexican democracy. Six years later, the time has come to see just how much Mexican democracy has truly advanced.

    The U.S., along with other Western powers, has traditionally viewed the institution of voting as not only a machine of democracy, but also as a pillar of democracy – a government by the people and for the people cannot exist without the voice of the people.

    The newly federalized election system aimed at eliminating the payoffs, ballot thievery and violence that has plagued past Mexican elections, coupled with a high voter turnout rate of 60%, made Sunday’s election the voice of the people. But was the election a true indicator of a healthy democracy?

    The answer is no. Despite the tendency to equate a fair voting institution with a democratic system, there exists a great difference between gaining a democratically elected President (whoever is finally announced to be winner) and actually having a democratic system of governance.

    Mexico does not have the latter and this is no secret. It is a nation that has little governmental transparency, lacks checks and balances and breeds fraudulence on all levels, making it one of the most corrupt nations in the world.

    The Mexican presidential election was not a machine of democracy – it was a deception of democracy

    After living in Mexico myself, I realized that the people of Mexico are not blind to this – they are the first to admit to the corrupt nature of their government.

    Still they voted. Despite this, the Mexican presidential election was not a machine of democracy – it was a deception of democracy. The people drove great distances, waited in lines for hours and finally cast their votes, but it may have not mattered one bit.

    The thing that needs to be on everyone’s minds is not whether one candidate or the other is more capable of resolving the intense inequalities from which Mexico suffers. What people need to question is whether it is possible for any one individual to really rework a broken system, or if they, like so many others, become a part of that system.

    The ability for the newly elected official to bring about real change is further prevented by restrictions that are placed on lawmakers to run consecutive terms. Without time for elected officials to establish their own alliances, the clout of affluent interest groups only intensifies.

    It is important that people are aware of this greater overall system in which the institution of voting takes place, because only with this awareness can people understand why a country that has made great efforts to help itself, still continues to struggle.

    Courtney Smith is a senior majoring in molecular and cellular biology and anthropology. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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