Mexico’s top electoral court on Friday unanimously validated the victory of Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, candidate Enrique Peña Nieto in the July 1 balloting and confirmed him as president-elect.
“The election is valid,” the president of the TEPJF electoral tribunal, Jose Alejandro Luna Ramos, said, adding that Peña Nieto “meets the eligibility requirements” to be president-elect according to the constitution.
“I’m convinced the July 1, 2012, election was in accordance with the law, with the prevailing democratic system,” another justice, Flavio Galvan, said in his opinion.
The ruling came a day after that same court had dismissed a challenge filed by the leftist Progressive Movement coalition, whose candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, finished second in the balloting.
The judges found Thursday that insufficient evidence was submitted of biased and unequal coverage by the news media - particularly No. 1 TV broadcaster Televisa - in favor of Peña Nieto.
They also dismissed evidence of deliberate distortion in pre-election voter-preference surveys, use of illegal funding and excessive campaign spending, vote buying and coercion, improper intervention in the election by state governors and other public officials and irregularities on election day.
The court said it was not sufficient for the coalition - led by the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD - to level generic accusations but rather it needed to spell out “clearly and precisely the circumstances of time, manner and place” in which the alleged abuses occurred.
The PRI’s Peña Nieto won the presidential election with 38.21 percent of the vote, while Progressive Movement candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took second place with 31.59 percent, according to the final official results released by the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE.
But the Progressive Movement said that victory was tainted, alleging that the PRI used several front companies to purchase debit cards and then handed them out to millions of prospective voters to secure support for Peña Nieto.
Lopez Obrador’s team said that through that chicanery the PRI exceeded campaign spending limits many times over.
The governing National Action Party, or PAN, whose candidate, Josefina Vazquez Mota, finished a distant third in the presidential election, also joined with Lopez Obrador in demanding an investigation of the PRI’s finances.
National Action, however, did not formally contest the election results.
The non-partisan Yo soy 132 student movement also has held a series of protests and other events to block the “imposition” of Peña Nieto as president.
After the TEPJF’s ruling, hundreds of people protested Thursday night outside the courthouse in Mexico City, hurling security barriers and chanting slogans denouncing the PRI and Peña Nieto.
The demonstrators, who also held up signs reading “We Demand this Dirty Election Be Annulled” and “Peña Is Not President,” did not spar with anti-riot police deployed nearby.
In statements to the media, Lopez Obrador’s campaign manager, Ricardo Monreal, slammed the court’s ruling.
He said the justices were a group of “frauds in robes and caps who are going to bury the constitution and go down as the most despicable group of puppets in the history of the nation’s democracy.”
Lopez Obrador, meanwhile, said early Friday that he did not accept the court’s decision and called for “peaceful” civil disobedience.
He called for a demonstration on Sept. 9 in the Zocalo, Mexico City’s massive main square, to define the left’s next steps in the defense of “citizens’ individual and social rights.”
PRI Chairman Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, for his part, said after the the court dismissed Progressive Movement’s challenge that Lopez Obrador and his supporters should “leave behind the political confrontations inherent in every electoral contest.”
Acceptance of the outcome of definitive judicial rulings is the foundation of “justice, social harmony and peace,” Coldwell said Friday.
The final confirmation of the PRI’s victory means that party will return to power in December after a 12-year absence.
The PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000, lost the 2000 presidential election to the PAN and finished third in 2006.
During its 71-year reign - described by Peruvian Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa as the “perfect dictatorship” - the PRI relied mainly on patronage and control of organized labor and the mass media, though it was not above resorting to outright vote-rigging and even violence.
Lopez Obrador also came in second in the previous presidential balloting in 2006, losing by the narrowest margin in Mexican history - a mere 0.56 percent of the 41 million ballots cast - to the PAN’s Felipe Calderon.
The leftist candidate also said that contest was marred by fraud and declared himself to be Mexico’s “legitimate president,” organizing a series of marches over several weeks in Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma, one of the capital’s main thoroughfares.