News and Analysis: June 25 - July 1

1 - MEXICAN ELECTIONS MARRED BY FRAUD
2 - US SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS KEY ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAW
3 - WTO RULING FAVORS MEXICO

Exit polls released late Sunday night show PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto winning Mexico’s presidency, with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRD finishing a surprisingly close second, and PANista Josefina Vazquez Mota a distant third.  CNN, Parametria, and Mitofsky exit polls all showed Pena Nieto with about 41% and Lopez Obrador with about 32%, though a “quick-count” based on a sampling of returns from across the country showed a closer race, and the actual returns gave Pena Neta 38% with Lopez Obrador close behind at 33%.  Vazquez Mota was quick to concede Sunday evening, while Lopez Obrador will wait for the official vote announcement on Wednesday and may contest the election after reports of widespread fraud. The PRI reportedly offered pre-paid supermarket cards worth up to 1,000 pesos and millions of boxes filled with food or cheap electro-domestics in exchange for votes.  Vote-buying was particularly widespread in Mexico State, where Pena Nieto served as Governor, and Veracruz, with some reports of as many as a million votes purchased in Mexico State alone.  Pena Nieto reportedly spent up to five times his legally allotted campaign fund, with massive private donations from businesses looking for influence in his administration.  And he enjoyed a virtual lock on news coverage by Televisa, the largest of two national television networks.  His wife, Angelica Rivera, is a popular soap opera star on the network.  

Nearly 80 million Mexicans were eligible to vote.  A 40% abstention rate plus more than a million annulled ballots meant “none of the above” garnered the most support, not surprising, given Pena Nieto’s Sunday night speech in which he laid out a political agenda that replicates the failed PAN agenda of the last six years – privatization of Pemex, labor reform that the unions will oppose, and tax reform.  The only missing element was current President Felipe Calderon’s war on drugs.  Pena Nieto is likely to negotiate with cartels rather than continue a war that has cost 55,000 lives in the past six years.  Pena Nieto assumes office in December, assuming election officials uphold the vote despite massive fraud – a safe bet given the PRI controls at least seven of the nine national election officials.

The PRI likely won two additional governorships, leaving the party in control of 22 out of 31 states, while the PRD maintained, and may have extended, its control of Mexico City.  Mayoral candidate Miguel Mancera, former capitol police chief, won an overwhelming 61 to 66% in exit polls, about 40 points above Beatriz Paredes, former president of the PRI.  The PAN finished with 14%, its worst showing since city residents began electing their mayor in 1997.

The PAN will now be the No. 3 party in the 500-seat lower house of Congress, going from 142 seats to 118, and the No. 2 party in the 128-seat Senate, with the number of seats under its control dropping from 50 to 41.  The PRI failed to win a majority in either house.

2 - US SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS KEY ANTI-IMMIGRANT LAW
The US Supreme Court upheld, in an 8-0 vote, a key part of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, allowing police to check the immigration status of people stopped for any reason if there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is undocumented.  The carefully worded decision left open the possibility for legal challenges if police enforce the law using ethnic or racial profiling, though profiling can be very difficult to prove in court.  About 2 million documented Latinos live in Arizona, one-third of the population, while about 360,000 undocumented immigrants live in the state.  Three other provisions were struck down: a requirement that immigrants carry immigration papers at all times, a ban on work solicitation in public places by undocumented workers, and warrantless arrests if police believed an immigrant committed a deportable crime.  The Court upheld another controversial Arizona law last year that requires employers to verify the immigration status of employees.

3 - WTO RULING FAVORS MEXICO
The World Trade Organization (WTO) characterized US country-of-origin labeling as a violation of global trade law this week, which could prove to be a boon for Mexican and Canadian agricultural products sold in the US market.  The WTO ruling prevents mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef, chicken, pork, lamb and goats plus some perishables, imposed in 2009 in response to mad cow disease discovered in Canada.

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