By RICARDO CASTILLO
The 2018 Mexican electoral procedure is now underway and picking up speed as the so-called “pre-candidates” begin their stomping campaigns in earnest.
At stake are 3,406 government seats at all levels – municipal, state and federal – as nearly 88 million Mexican voters will be going to the polls next July 1. The main seats will be those of 500 new federal deputies, 128 senators, nine governors and 2,768 state and municipal mayors and assembly persons. And, of course, the cherry on the cake will be the presidential election.
The entire process is being organized by the National Electoral Institute (INE), which is also the organization that distributes all the available campaign funds among political parties and controls the advertising allotments each of the candidates gets. This process began last Dec. 14 and will run through Feb. 11, when all contestants will have to file registration – but not register – papers with INE.
The reason why political parties are not handed out cash except for campaign management is that the amount spent in advertising is way superior. In fact, in the current “pre-campaign,” which constitutes a primary of sorts for U.S. readers, total ads for the candidates will be 17,919,360 radio and TV spots, in addition to newsprint ads, and the period will last a total of 60 days. The total cost, according to INE figures, will be 116 billion pesos, or about $60 million.
As of Feb. 12, a second stage of the campaign, called “inter-campaigning,” will be initiated and will go on until March 29, when all political organizations will have to officially register their candidates. The blaring publicity campaign will continue with 13,738,176 ads in a free-for-all competition (free is literal).
All candidates will have to file for official registration on March 29, with the final and official campaign starting on March 30 and running until June 27 with another batch of 26,879,040 ads for all candidates. By this time, there might be one, or perhaps two independent candidates registered, adding to the three “official” candidates representing each of the three blocks of political parties in the running.
Finally, from June 28 to July 1, election day, there will be a phase the INE calls the “reflections and electoral campaign” in which voters will be enticed to consider the candidate they will be voting for and promote participation. It still remains to be seen just how massive that campaign will be because it is one thing to have the 88 million registered voters mentioned above and something else to entice them to come out and cast their ballots for their favorite candidates. It’s not that easy in Mexico, particularly because of voter mistrust of both political parties and their candidates.
Most results will be announced Sunday, July 1, before midnight.