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Expanding suffrage: congress approves absentee ballot; PRI Triumphs.

The excitement and anticipation for the 2006 presidential campaign is visibly bubbling over into the actions of major political players and the decisions being made by them.

Postal Vote

On June 29 Congress finally passed reforms to the Electoral Law regulating how Mexicans who live abroad can vote in federal elections.

The legislation--which establishes that such balloting will take place via the Mexican postal service--is historic as it represents a significant step forward in Mexico's democracy.

It is accepted that the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) is technically capable of organizing and overseeing a presidential election that includes millions of absentee ballots. In theory, the new law enables IFE to guarantee that the votes sent from abroad will remain confidential and secure.

Admittedly, this is a gradual initiative. It does not automatically include all potential voters living abroad. Only those with official electorate credentials certified and issued by the authorities in the voter's home precinct in Mexico can participate.

It is worth noting that recent studies indicate there could be roughly 4 million Mexicans eligible for an absentee ballot.

Given the relevance of this topic, here is some data about how the process will work:

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

- October 1-January 15: absentee ballot registration forms will be available for Mexican citizens living abroad at Mexican consulates and embassies and via the IFE web page. These forms must be submitted to IFE along with a photocopy of the valid voter's credential. Applicants must also supply a street address where IFE can mail the ballot. IFE must approve a specific ballot for the absentee process and is also responsible for keeping track of absentee voter lists and respective applications. Finally, IFE must produce an official list of "qualified Mexican voters living abroad."

- April 16-May 20: IFE will send absentee ballots to specified addresses.

- April 20-June 30: absentee voters should expect to receive official ballots. They should fill out the ballot and send it to IFE in the envelopes provided (with postage pre-paid by IFE). Only ballots received by IFE before 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 1 will be counted. The official count of absentee ballots will take place on July 2.

State of Mexico Elections

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won the State of Mexico gubernatorial election on July 3rd. The election is being challenged amid charges the PRI surpassed campaign spending limits.

Even so, PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto won a solid victory, taking nearly 48 percent of the vote. Fox's National Action Party (PAN) and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) each won about 24 percent of the vote. Many analysts have been arguing that the State of Mexico elections could foreshadow the presidential vote in 2006.

The PRI also won the Nayarit governorship that same day.

Some quick observations: the PAN continues its decline, forcing it to reconsider its electoral strategy for 2006. One goal will be to limit internal damage from the potentially bitter party primary. The PRD improved over its showing in 1999, but fell short of expectations. Party divisions were evident and must be addressed if likely candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is to regain momentum and emerge from the party primary unscathed.

When the PRI stays unified, they win. If this notion of unity can be transferred to the primary (which promises to be nasty), the PRI is likely to return to Los Pinos.

Joel Estudillo Rendon is a member of the board of the Instituto Mexicano de Estudios Politicos.
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Title Annotation:Institutional Revolutionary Party (Mexico)
Author:Rendon, Joel Estudillo
Publication:Business Mexico
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Aug 1, 2005
Words:576
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