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Mexicans Weigh in on US Presidential Election

Today, Tuesday November 6, 2012, the day of the US elections, will result in either the re-election of Democrat Barack Obama or the appointment of Republican Mitt Romney as the 45th President of the United States of America.

For Mexico, a country located on the southern border of the USA, its neighbour's electoral process is an occasion that not only brings about inherent curiosity about a hard-fought and relevant electoral contest, but one that also evokes interest in finding out how things are done there and what repercussions the outcome of the voting could have on Mexico.

León Krauze [es], a Mexican journalist specialising in topics regarding the USA, explained the particularities of the American electoral system for Letras Libres as follows:

Como quizá sabe el lector, el sistema electoral en Estados Unidos es absurdo. El ganador no es aquel con la mayor cantidad de votos totales (el voto popular), sino quien logra sumar la mayor cantidad de “votos” en el llamado colegio electoral, un “colegio” que no es un lugar sino un proceso: 538 votos repartidos entre los estados de acuerdo con el número de senadores y representantes de cada uno, es decir, con su población. Si suena extrañamente complicado es porque lo es. Este sistema crea vicios casi cómicos, como la concentración de recursos en un puñado de lugares cuya única virtud es ser territorio disputado. El ejemplo perfecto es Ohio.

As the reader may know, the electoral system in the United States is absurd. The winner is not the one with the greatest number of total votes (the popular vote), but rather he who manages to accumulate the most votes in the so-called Electoral College, a ‘College’ that is not a place but a process: 538 votes distributed in accordance with the number of senators and representatives of each state, that is to say, with its population. If it sounds oddly complicated, that's because it is. This system creates almost comical faults, as the concentration of resources is in a handful of places whose only virtue is being a disputed territory. The perfect example is Ohio.

For his part, the lawyer John M. Ackerman [es] expressed why, in his opinion, the American electoral model should not be a model to follow for other nations:

Las campañas presidenciales en curso en Estados Unidos confirman que el sistema político estadunidense no debe fungir como modelo de referencia para nadie. Allá no existe el voto directo para elegir presidente de la República y los dólares cuentan más que los ciudadanos. El bipartidismo institucionalizado y la interminable reelección legislativa imposibilitan debates verdaderos sobre asuntos cruciales, como la desigualdad, el racismo y la corrupción. Tampoco existen organismos autónomos o tribunales electorales que organicen y califiquen las elecciones.

The current presidential campaign in the United States confirms that the American political system should not act as a model of reference for anyone. Over there, there is no direct vote to elect a President of the Republic and dollars mean more than citizens. The institutionalised two-party system and the interminable legislative re-election make real debates about crucial matters impossible, like inequality, racism and corruption. Neither do autonomous organisations or electoral tribunals that organise and evaluate the elections exist.

Electoral representative delivers “I voted” stickers in Washington D.C. on November, 6, 2012. Photo by Dana Ballout, copyright Demotix.

Alejandro Toral [es] explained the relevance of the elections in the US, and pointed out that the presidency is not the only thing at stake:

México y América Latina, a pesar de haber distanciado sus relaciones con Estados Unidos debe de estar al pendiente de las elecciones del 6 de noviembre, porque no sólo se elegirán a los representantes del colegio electoral, quienes a partir de diciembre, nombrarán al próximo Presidente; sino también votarán en tres estados la legalización total de la mariguana.

Mexico and Latin America, despite having distanced relations with the United States, must be keeping a close watch on the elections on November 6, because not only will representatives of the Electoral College be chosen, who from December will name the next President, but they will also vote in three states regarding the total legalisation of marijuana.

The controversial newsreader Joaquín López-Dóriga [es], who is covering the event from Washington D.C., described the protagonists of this contest as follows:

Hoy, como en todas elecciones, es un martes decisivo para Estados Unidos: repite el primer presidente negro, el demócrata Barack Obama, o llega a la Casa Blanca un candidato del peor fundamentalismo republicano de la derecha extrema e ignorante, Mitt Romney.

Today, like in all elections, is a decisive Tuesday for the United States: we will either have the second term of the first black President, the Democrat Barack Obama, or a candidate of the worst Republican fundamentalism of the extreme and ignorant right-wing will take his place in the White House, Mitt Romney.

He wrote about the natural speculation that exists around the results as well:

Dicen las leyendas urbanas que a México siempre le ha ido mejor con un presidente republicano de Estados Unidos que con un demócrata, aunque la realidad documente lo contrario, como es el caso de Bill Clinton.

Urban legends say that a Republican US President has always suited Mexico more than a Democrat leader, even if reality suggests the opposite, as was the case with Bill Clinton.

Mexican opinions about the US elections have also been shared on Twitter. Consultant Gabriel Guerra C. (@gabrielguerrac) [es] shared his prediction with his followers early on:

@gabrielguerrac: Mi pronóstico para hoy: Romney gana o casi empata en el voto popular, Obama gana en el Colegio Electoral…

@gabrielguerrac: My prediction for today: Romney wins or nearly draws in the popular vote, Obama wins in the Electoral College…

Gisela Rubach (@GiselaRubach) [es] spoke about how close the election has been and took the chance to propose the following question:

@GiselaRubach: El librito de campaña dice que en elecciones competidas aumenta la participación. Será el caso en #USA que rebasen el 50%?#ConsultoresEnUSA

@GiselaRubach: The campaign booklet says that participation increases in close elections. Will it be the case that the figure surpasses 50% in the #USA? #ConsultoresEnUSA (Consultants in the USA)

Mario Di Constanzo (@mariodiconstanzo) [es] expressed her feelings about today's elections:

@mariodiconstanzo: No tengo favorito en la elección de EUA, ambos matarán migrantes, y seguiremos siendo el “patio de atrás”

@mariodiconstanzo: I don't have a preference in the US elections, both will kill migrants, and we will continue to be ‘the backyard'.

Finally, German Petersen C. (@GermanPetersenC) [es] pointed out that the electoral process of the United States also influences the way in which elections develop in Mexico:

@GermanPetersenC: Vale la pena observar bien estrategias, tácticas y mecanismos en campañas electorales en EUA. Suelen marcar “moda” para campañas en México.

@GermanPetersenC: It's worth taking a good look at strategies, tactics and mechanisms in the US electoral campaigns. They are often marked as ‘fashionable’ for campaigns in Mexico.

These are some of the voices regarding election day in the USA. Given that it is a neighbouring country of Mexico, and a strategic partner, the election is of great relevance for the bilateral agenda and the future of both nations.

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