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Narco Blog:  Court Overturns Election in Mexican State, Cartel Threatens Candidates

Narco Blog:  Court Overturns Election in Mexican State, Cartel Threatens Candidates

Photo: Mexican Elections

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Mexican judges on Wednesday overturned the result of the Nov. 13 mayoral ballot in Morelia, capital of the western state of Michoacan, citing violations of campaign law by the winner’s party.

The 2-1 ruling by a regional panel of the TEPJF electoral court emerged from a session that began Tuesday night and stretched into the wee hours of the morning.

Wilfrido Lazaro, the candidate of Mexico’s main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, won the Morelia mayor’s race over Marko Cortes, standard-bearer of the conservative PAN, which has been in power at the national level since 2000.

Lazaro was proclaimed the winner after a recount demanded by the PAN showed him with 2,317 more votes than Cortes out of some 250,000 ballots cast.

The TEPJF panel said it overturned the mayoral election due to “violations of the constitutional principles of certainty, equity and legality in the electoral contest.”

Specifically, the judges pointed to Lazaro’s participation in the final rally of the PRI candidate for governor of Michoacan, erstwhile Morelia Mayor Fausto Vallejo, a televised event that took place after the official end of campaigning.

Vallejo won the gubernatorial race, defeating PAN hopeful Luisa Maria “Cocoa” Calderon, the sister of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

The TEPJF panel also referred to the broadcast on the eve of the election of a boxing match in which Mexican fighter Juan Manuel Marquez sported a PRI insignia on his trunks.

The judges ordered a second election for mayor of Morelia, but did not set a date.

The run-up to the elections in Michoacan was marred by violence, with La Piedad Mayor Ricardo Guzman Romero being murdered and several candidates pulling out of mayoral and legislative races amid a turf war between the La Familia Michoacana and Los Caballeros Templarios drug cartels.