Authors: Timothy S. Rich, Ian Milden, Madelynn Einhorn, Aurora Speltz*
Most Latin American presidential systems have runoff elections if the first place candidate fails to meet a legal threshold. However, Mexico is not one of them, important when considering that three of the last four presidential elections resulted in winners with less than half of the vote.
The 2000 election ended the PRI’s 74 years of electoral dominance and often is cited as a turning point for Mexican democracy. However, Vincente Fox of the PAN only captured 42.5%. In 2006, the PAN’s Filipe Calderon won with only 36.38% of the vote, compared to Manuel Lopez Obrador’s 35.34%. Both candidates initially declared victory while election officials reiterated it was too close to call. Obrador supporters protested for weeks claiming voter fraud, while Calderon himself suggested runoffs could prevent this type of situation in the future. The PRI’s Enrique Pena Nieto won in 2012 with only 38.2% of the vote, with Obrador again in second place (31.6%). Only in 2018 did Obrador secure an outright majority (53.19%).
Whether the results of 2000-2012 would have differed under a runoff system is hard to say, although, 35 of the 47 runoffs in Latin America from 1978-2017 resulted in victory for the first-round winner. Yet, little research directly tackles public support for runoffs in Mexico or elsewhere, with assumptions that most Latin Americans may see the addition as a waste of time and resources.
Proponents of runoffs focus precisely on preventing a minority preferred candidate from winning, instead prioritizing broad support and coalition-building if not before the first election then before the runoff. Extremist voters also tend to have less of an influence and when a perceived extremist candidate makes it to the runoff, this commonly galvanizes support for the opponent, as seen in the 2017 French presidential election. In addition, runoff winners are perceived to have a clearer mandate to rule, enhancing views of democratic legitimacy. Runoff elections also encourage sincere voting as supporters of even the smallest party know that their runoff vote can be influential. Evidence suggests presidential systems with runoffs also have positive implications for human rights protection (see here and here) and measures of democracy.
However, runoff elections may encourage party proliferation and exacerbate political tensions, especially where the runoff is closely contested or where the winner lacks a legislative majority. Even where the opposition accepts the results, such as this year’s Ecuadorian election, runoffs often leave winners with limited legislative support. Meanwhile, in this year’s Peruvian presidential election, Pedro Castillo beat Keiko Fujimori by less than 1% of the vote in the second round, with Fujimori and supporters claiming electoral fraud and calling for the nullification of the election. Runoff elections also incur additional costs for both parties and election administration and often see lower turnout. Nor does a runoff necessarily inspire greater affinity towards one of the remaining candidates. In the Ecuadorian case, nearly 15% cast a null ballot in the runoff, viewed as either a sign of disapproval of both candidates or concerns of first round voter fraud.
This year’s runoff election in Peru also demonstrates that runoffs can create further challenges to democracy. Despite that various international and domestic observers have verified the validity of the election, one of the members of the court evaluating the appeals of the Fujimori campaign resigned, further delaying the official results of the election. Furthermore, Fujimori shows that human rights protections are not necessarily improved with the addition of a runoff: she has stated openly that she planned to pardon her father Alberto Fujimori, who has been convicted of human rights violations. Keiko Fujimori was also put in preventative prison due to her involvement in the Odebrecht corruption case in 2018.
To gauge Mexican public support for enacting a runoff system, we conducted a web survey June 24-26 via Qualtrics, surveying 625 Mexicans via quota sampling.
We asked, “Many countries require a runoff election if no presidential candidate receives an outright majority. Would you support changing the election law in Mexico to require a runoff election if no presidential candidate wins an outright majority?”
We found that an overwhelming majority (71.84%)supported such a reform, with majority support across supporters of all parties. We also find little difference between those who claimed to have voted in June’s legislative elections (72.09%) and those who did not (69.88%). Nor do we find much variation across demographic factors such as age, gender, income, or education.
Why respondents appear so favorable to runoffs is unclear. This could be as a response to a system that often pushes citizens to vote against political parties rather than for their preferred candidate. For example, in 2012 most voters did not feel compelled to vote for a party but rather against two oppositional candidates who were viewed as extreme and dysfunctional. Respondents may also want to avoid the chaos following previous elections, notably Calderon’s 2006 victory that resulted in over a million protestors in the streets.
Despite public support, passing electoral reform would still face several hurdles. Political parties that assume they can win a plurality would likely see it in their own self-interest to reject such reforms. Reforms would need the two-thirds legislative majority as well to pass, increasingly unlikely with MORENA’s loss of seats in June’s Chamber of Deputies election.
Nor is it likely that runoffs can fix all of the problems that citizens think they might. Runoffs cannot guarantee that the candidate with initially the most support wins and does little to improve the quality of candidates who run. Winners may still lack the support to govern effectively. Runoffs also do not necessarily avoid the chaos of contested elections as the 2021 Peruvian election shows. However, instituting this system still provides a rather simple and effective means to shape public perceptions of elections.
Timothy S. Rich is an associate professor of political science at Western Kentucky University and director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL). His research focuses on public opinion and electoral politics.
Ian Milden is a recent graduate from the Master’s in Public Administration program at Western Kentucky University. He previously graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History from Western Kentucky University.
Madelynn Einhorn is an honors undergraduate researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Political Science and Economics.
Aurora Speltz is an honors undergraduate researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Arabic, International Affairs, and Spanish.
Funding for this survey work was provided by the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University.
Global Warming And COP26: Issues And Politics
The president’s massive social services and infrastructure package is under consideration by Congress. The problem is Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia.
Not only is West Virginia a coal-producing state but Mr. Manchin owns two coal companies. Although in a blind trust operated by his son, it is clear that coal companies make money when they sell coal.
But coal is a serious polluter, possibly the worst among fossil fuels. Any serious attempt to reduce the impact of climate change will replace coal with at least natural gas — available in abundance and emitting almost 50 percent less CO2 according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Republicans — many of whom deny global warming following Trump’s lead — adamantly oppose the plan en bloc, so Senator Manchin’s vote is crucial. For the moment then, the fate of the planet lies in the hands of one man because, quite simply, if the US backs off, China will be relieved of pressure — also Russia which has an abundance of fossil fuels.
Hence the importance of the COP26 climate summit scheduled for October 31 – November 2 in Glasgow. Originally planned for 2020, the meeting was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic. The town is preparing for an influx of 25,000 people as lobbyists, conference attendees and demonstrators arrive.
It is an interesting meeting, liked by some to a teacher requiring a class to prepare and bring term papers. The 200 countries represented will be bringing their plans to meet the goals of the Paris accords. These require the signatories to commit to enhance ambitions every five years — thus 2020 postponed to 2021 — under the so-called ‘ratchet mechanism’. The Paris Accords aimed to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius and to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius.
As often, people leak documents to help their agenda. This time a huge leak shows how important fossil fuel using and producing countries are attempting to modify a crucial scientific report. Oil producer Saudi Arabia, coal producer Australia and heavy user Japan are among those questioning a rapid change from fossil fuels. Saudi Arabia for one also lobbied previously in 2015 with some success.
This time the lobbying effort consists of more than 32,000 submissions (by governments, corporations and other interested parties) to the team of scientists preparing scientific reports designed to coalesce the best science on tackling global warming. One can imagine the headache for the scientists, who for the most part have a regular job, often as professors. Produced as “assessment reports” by IPCC (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) these represent a consensus of the views of different governments, and are used by them to decide what action will be needed.
The many bodies involved, the complicated murky politics and the enormous pressure from different parties all point to the crucial fact that billions of dollars are involved now in today’s dollars versus promises of a better and distant future. We can only hope we have decision makers with foresight, and leaders without Trumpian climate change ignorance and excess.
America’s Two-Tiered Justice System
The Constitution states only one command twice. The Fifth Amendment says to the federal government that no one shall be “deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” The Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, uses the same eleven words, called the Due Process Clause, to describe a legal obligation of all states. These words have as their central promise an assurance that all levels of government must operate within the law and provide fair procedures to all its citizens.
In this politically divisive climate, the central promise has been broken with little to no assurance that one can trust the American democratic system where some courts have disavowed their responsibility to uphold the Constitution’s meaning of the laws passed by Congress. For instance, the Bill of Rights was passed because of concepts such as freedom of religion, speech, equal treatment, and due process of law were all deemed so fundamental to protect every legal resident in the nation; yet we are now witnessing politically charged judicial appointments eradicating these principles under which all persons and entities are accountable to equally enforce and independently adjudicate, as well as being consistent with international human rights.
On the heels of the Chinese coronavirus, there is an escalating epidemic of unequal justice and character assault where much of the news media is politically aligned with the rulers in turning a blind eye or complicit in the coverup; and in some cases, ravenously endorses the demise of what has essentially now become political dissidents falsely accused, intimidated, and jailed. While many Americans are attempting to scrape by in difficult times, they remain astute to the moral failure of the elites in power as well as the tacit elected opposition’s assiduous silence in whitewashing the legal duplicity. Historical trends over centuries of betraying the peasants eventually succumbs to a reckoning where the privileged corrupt politician and their corporate fascists will be exposed and held accountable in some fashion.
Americans are confounded by the coronavirus decrees requiring masks to be worn for thee and not for me double standards. The politicians hammer away at enforcing mask mandates on the common folk, yet they do not adhere to their own edicts while attending fine dining with their elite backers. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Californian Governor Gavin Newsome, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot all violated their own mask mandates in public venues while the masked servants waited on them.
President Biden was caught on video walking maskless through a swanky Washington restaurant in violation of the District’s laws on facial coverings, yet regular citizens are subject to civil penalties which result in fines of $1000.00 or revocation of licenses during the COVID-19 emergency. In defending the emperor, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said we should ‘not overly focus on moments in time that don’t reflect overarching policy.’ These double standard by the progressives are a far cry from Americans being punished and ostracized all over the country for not wearing a mask.
Identity politics has resulted in two systems of justice – one where BLM rioting and looting is described by the media as peaceful demonstrations and where assaulting police has no criminal consequences; yet the January 6th actions at the Capital has resulted in the largest round up of protesters ever seen in America. It is estimated that the Federal Government has upwards to 70 rioters/trespassers in solitary confinement and they are only let out in a larger area for one hour at 2 am due to COVID. Some of those being held in detention have been charged with trespassing on restricted grounds, others with assault and obstruction, and some haven’t been charged with anything. There are no bail hearings for these political activists yet BLM and Antifa rioters typically spend one night in the brig and let out the next day to rejoin the frontlines of carnage.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vocally pushed for the January 6th ‘insurrectionists’ to be added to the TSA no-fly list. Civil liberties are being trampled by exploiting insurrection fears with people in attendance no longer permitted to take a flight in their own country and they have not been convicted of a crime. This action by the government had previously only happened to suspect foreign terrorists, and now it is happening to Americans under suspicion. We see no similar actions taken against the militant Antifa anarchists who attacked and torched federal buildings in Portland.
Washington DC has essentially been abusing these inmates in captivity. There have been complaints on the nourishment of their fellow Americans where they are served white bread and a packet of tartar sauce. This is ultimately a violation of the 8th Amendment that prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, nor cruel and unusual punishments, and from inflicting unduly harsh penalties. Some judges are expressing concern at the length of these pretrial incarcerations, however they’ve largely deferred to the Justice Department. Meanwhile anarchists who burn down buildings and shoot projectiles at police officers and federal buildings have charges dismissed. Justice is not equal.
One female trespasser was shot dead by police during the Capital unrest and there was no outcry or charges against the officer. She was white and a Trump supporter. Federal prosecutors are not seeking criminal charges against the police lieutenant whose single shot killed Ashli Babbit, the 14-year veteran who served four tours with the US Airforce. If the unarmed Babbit committed any crime, it would have been for trespassing, a misdemeanor that should have seen her arrested and not slain. The lieutenant’s life was not at risk nor was he saving the lives of others as he stood with numerous police officers in riot gear and strapped with submachine guns. If a member of BLM was shot dead by police during an unlawful riot, there would have been an immediate racial outcry from political elites and from across the news media for justice followed by looting local retailers and ransacking a police precinct. The action by BLM is considered righteous violence whereas the slain Babbit had it coming to her.
On a very disturbing and new level of injustice is the threatening actions being taken against parents of schoolchildren by the Department of Justice. Most Americans are familiar with the Patriot Act following 9-11 where the National Security Division conducts counterterrorism operations against foreign adversaries planning suicide bombings and stealing nuclear secrets. Now the Biden Administration, under Attorney General Merrick Garland, has turned the NSD’s crosshairs against everyday Americans conducting their civil duties and free speech as school board meetings.
Garland’s actions followed the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) claim that American public schools and its education leaders are under immediate threats and intimidation as parents grow frustrated over the divisive neo-Marxist Critical Race Theory being injected into their children’s curricula. This is clearly an injustice to weaponize the DOJ and FBI investigators to intimidate and arrest parents under the same counterespionage to that of Al Qaeda and ISIS. Parents may be angry, but they are certainly not domestic terrorists in taking on the powerfully partisan school unions who somehow believe they are justified to influence civilization by indoctrinating their children.
Garland’s poster boy for his hideous partisan support of the NSBA is a Virginia father who was arrested at a school board meeting when he attempted to raise the alarm over his young daughter being raped in the school washroom. The father became the symbol of angry parents confronting school officials when he was taken down by several police officers and apprehended for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He became vocally upset when school officials denied the attack on his daughter, but he was not physically confrontational.
The father said it is scary that our government will weaponize themselves against parents and they’re using my video across the nation to spread fear; while the school officials did not seem to want to listen to him regarding his daughter being assaulted by a boy wearing a skirt who took advantage of transgender rules to access the girl’s washroom. The boy has now been charged with two counts of forcible sodomy, one count of anal sodomy, and one count of forcible fellatio related to the incident at that school. At a later date, the same boy was charged for a similar attack at neighboring school where he allegedly forced a victim into an empty classroom where he held her against her will and inappropriately touched her. Regardless of the raped daughter, Garland and the NSBA still have their video of the father being wrestled down to support the use of the FBI against parents and send a chilling effect on harmless dissent.
The Russian collusion narrative against then President Donald Trump may seem dated, however it can never be swept aside or forgotten in what may well have been the biggest political scandal and injustice to a man in American history. The country endured four years investigating Russian collusion into the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 presidential win with senate and congressional impeachment hearings over a Clinton-paid-for fake dossier, the biased Obama hatchet men overseeing the FBI and CIA shirking the law, a frenzied media that never let up on Trump’s guilt, and a special counsel comprised of Clinton partisans that turned over every leaf that eventually found the nearly crucified Trump to be innocent of the false charges. The former president had to withstand an incessant blitzkrieg of injustice through his entire presidency while leading the most powerful country in the world.
On the hand, there is compelling evidence that President Joe Biden spent years while in government enriching himself through family ties, specifically his son Hunter, to the tune of millions of dollars in foreign money from China, Russia, and Ukraine. The foreign players simply used the unqualified son to leverage access to Biden while satisfying Hunter’s greed and questionable lifestyle. Biden has little to no ability to stand up to China or Russia knowing they are holding damaging transactions over his head. There have been no investigations into Biden’s quid-pro-quo against Ukraine or the transfer of tens of millions of dollars to Biden family members, no impeachments, and the news media buried these stories; including damaging information found on Hunter’s laptop during the 2020 presidential election. Had Trump and his sons engaged in these activities, there would have been a very different level of justice.
What of this injustice that is making its mark on history? If we take a moment to think through the confusion of the moment and see the morale issue involved, then one may refuse to have this sense of justice distorted to grip power rather than for the good of the country. Those who have sown this unjust wind may eventually reap a whirlwind that provokes reform by convulsion of the people instead of a natural order of business. We must all remember that democracy lies with the people of this land and whether the nation will be stirred to stand for justice and freedom in this hour of distress and go on to finish in a way worthy of its beginning.
Biden’s Department of Justice: parents as domestic terrorists
In recent developments in the United States, US Attorney General, Merrick Garland, and the FBI have put under the FBI radar parents as potential domestic terrorists. You heard it right. This is now a new formal legal policy contained in memos of the Department of Justice trying to reign in parents discussions on Biden’s new school curricula. They are not going after potential outbursts but outright terrorism.
This is an attack on freedom of speech in the sense that parents have the right to discuss and disagree with the new Biden school curricula. This is where the issue originated: parts of Biden’s new school curricula are not accepted by many parents and if they disagree, the FBI treats them now as potential domestic terrorists as a matter of policy. Apart from a First Amendment case, this is also a case for international human rights law and I reported the development to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech this week hoping to get a statement.
The Department of Justice is referring to some constitutional provision on “intimidation of views” to override and take down one of the most firmly established rights, the right to freedom of speech, in quite frankly a ridiculous interpretation. Those parents that dare to speak up against controversial parts in the new text books could be investigated for domestic terrorism. This is the most incompetent interpretation on limitations of freedom of speech I have seen in awhile.
Garland and the FBI have totally lost their marbles. The woke discussion is not funny to me anymore. It increasingly looks like a woke tyranny that has nothing to do with rights and equality anymore but simply serves as a vehicle to empower the FBI to run wild against regular people. This lunacy needs to be stopped.
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