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Mexico's election violence-free: a turning point?

As the death toll has surged in Mexico, many have feared the impact on the electoral process. But the 2012 presidential race has been quiet, though not necessarily for good reasons, argues InSight Crime.

By Patrick CorcoranInSight Crime / July 2, 2012

Supporters of Enrique Pena Nieto, presidential candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), celebrate outside the party headquarters in Mexico City, on July 1.

Edgard Garrido/Reuters

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Insight Crime researches, analyzes, and investigates organized crime in the Americas. Find all of Patrick Corcoran's research here.

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Mexico’s presidential campaign has come and gone without any major acts of election violence, but this could simply be a sign that criminal influence on the vote has gone underground.

On July 1, Mexico elected Enrique Peña Nieto to succeed Felipe Calderon when the presidency changes hands on December 1. In addition, voters replaced the members of both Congress chambers, and selected new governors in seven states. Despite fears of criminal violence marring the election day amid all this turnover, the process went smoothly, both on Sunday, and, for the most part, throughout the campaign.

There were some provocative acts of violence (see InSight Crime's map), but few could be clearly linked to organized crime and the elections. One of the few spectacular attacks in recent days -- a bomb attack on the Nuevo Laredo city hall, which injured seven -- occurred in a region where no elections were planned beyond the presidential race, so it’s not clear that there was a political motive for the bombing. In another of the incidents making headlines, Marisol Mora, the mayor of a small town in Veracruz, was abducted from her home last week, and found dead in neighboring Oaxaca days later. She had worked on the campaign of government candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota, who finished in third place, but there is little to suggest that the attack was provoked by the election.

Prior to election day, the government issued a map highlighting the regions with the most serious threats of campaign violence. They had also promised to mount military patrols in some of the more turbulent regions, to discourage electoral manipulation. Whether or not it was because of these measures, the reports of criminal groups exerting influence on 2012's elections have been tamer than any other in Mexico’s recent history.

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