Mexico's Midterm Elections Marred By Violence
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
In Mexico yesterday, elections were marked by protests, violence and general voter discontent. In midterm voting, Mexicans elected congressmen, governors and mayors. And despite the president's sinking popularity, his party is poised to maintain power as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The violence was limited mostly to southern states of the country. In Oaxaca, members of a radical teacher's union upset about recent educational reforms burned ballots in the central square of the state's capital. Police arrested more than 80 people. In the state of Guerrero, parents and supporters of 43 students disappeared last year protested.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
KAHN: Chanting the struggle continues, mass protesters burned ballots and election materials. However, Mexico's top election official said less than two percent of polling places nationwide were affected. While the anticipated violence was limited to southern states, predicted voter dissatisfaction appeared more widespread.
(SOUNDBITE OF GUITAR)
KAHN: At an outdoor restaurant in the Mexico City neighborhood, more people were enjoying the music than voting at a polling place next door. Guitarist Juan Dominguez said why bother.
JUAN DOMINGUEZ: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: "All the candidates do is make promises and more promises and then do nothing," said Dominguez between sets. Pre-election polls showed a vast majority of Mexicans have little or no confidence in their politicians. Nearly all the major parties have been hit with scandals in recent months. Shady real estate deals with government contractors has threatened President Enrique Pena Nieto's PRI party. However, early results show it will retain a majority in Congress and many state legislatures. All eyes were on the northern state of Nuevo Leon where, for the first time, an independent candidate was running for governor. Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, known as El Bronco, was leading in exit polls and preliminary vote counts. But it will take days before final results in some of the closer state contests will be certified and turnout figures calculated. Voter Maria Elba Ortega said she thought about heeding calls for a boycott but showed up at her Mexico City polling place.
MARIA ELBA ORTEGA: (Speaking Spanish).
KAHN: "We have 10 parties now competing," she says. "I wish I could tell you that it was a hard choice because there were so many good candidates." But she said it was a hard choice because they all are the same, corrupt and dishonest. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.