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The National Electoral Institute (INE) has named the 2018 Mexican elections “the biggest election in Mexican history.” On July 1, 2018, 94% of the country’s regions will hold elections on the same day. With approximately 64% of the population registered to vote, the upcoming presidential elections will determine the future of Mexico’s economic and security policies. Approximately half of those registered to vote are under the age of 35, giving the young votes a large role in determining the future of Mexico. The elections have faced widespread media coverage for two reasons; firstly, a large number of issues being debated, yet the absence of social issues being addressed, and secondly, the violent protests which have plagued the electoral campaign season.
A left wing favourite of the Presidential election, Andrés Manuel Lópex Obrador, has stirred concerns over his position towards decriminalizing abortion and encouraging marriage equality stating that he considers “it something not that important,” the Guardian reports. Others, however, do not see the politician as a religious figure and staunch supporter of a church, rather, as observed by a journalist from Obrador’s hometown, a man concerned with “ethics and ethical behaviour.” The Los Angeles Times reports that social issues and religious sentiments are increasingly being outshone by the violence occurring across regional Mexico with the head of Mexico’s electoral tribune, Janine Otalora commenting that “criminal hands” determining “who should or should not be on the electoral ballot.” The incumbent President, Enrique Peña Nieto, has strictly condemned the killings deeming them “unacceptable.”
Although a time of celebration for the birth of a new Mexico, violence and corruption have plagued the Mexican elections. Largely involving provincial posts away from the capital of Mexico City, the Los Angeles Times reports that 48 political candidates have been killed in the 10-month election season, whilst Euronews reports that 122 candidates have been murdered since September 2017. The most recent victim, Emigdio Lopez Avendano, was killed on June 25, only a week before the elections. The violent nature of the Mexican elections is not unique to Mexico, with states such as Colombia and Venezuela, as well as others across Central and South America, experiencing riots, corruption, assassinations and deadly protest clashes with government troops.
The Guardian reports that all four male candidates, although proposing strong policies to combat corruption and to maximize security, have remained quiet on social issues such as abortion and diversity. A largely Catholic society, each candidate has embraced their religious morals, steering clear of contentious issues, although not publicly objecting to them. With Catholic priests, evangelical pastors and other conservative public figures recognized as the most significant endorsers of the campaign, traditional values are front and centre of the election. This realization raises red flags for minority groups and diverse communities across Mexico, raising the question of who will represent them.
Surprisingly, despite the violence plaguing the democratic process, political parties have grown and continue to form alliances showing no intention of stepping down. Etellekt, a risk analysis and crisis management consultancy group based in Mexico City, reports that violence in the capital has increased by approximately 385% since the electoral campaign of 2015. Costa Rican journalist, Álvarez, projects that as social issues remain off the agenda for the candidates, the youth of the nation remain unimpressed and will consequently focus on violence and corruption as the deciding factors in their historical election vote. The greatest challenges for the new Mexican government, as of Sunday, July 1, will be to offer the people a safe and prosperous homeland by fighting the embedded corruption, reviewing the political system and decreasing violence across the nation.