Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main - PDF

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main Zentrum für Nordamerika Forschung (ZENAF) Center for North American Studies ZENAF Arbeits- und Forschungsberichte (ZAF) Nr. 1 / 2007 Ulrike Klinger

Please download to get full document.

View again

of 21
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.

Music & Video

Publish on:

Views: 10 | Pages: 21

Extension: PDF | Download: 0

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main Zentrum für Nordamerika Forschung (ZENAF) Center for North American Studies ZENAF Arbeits- und Forschungsberichte (ZAF) Nr. 1 / 2007 Ulrike Klinger Voto por Voto, Casilla por Casilla? Democratic Consolidation, Political Intermediation, and the Mexican Election of 2006 2 Copyright by Ulrike Klinger Zentrum für Nordamerika-Forschung Center for North American Studies Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Robert-Mayer-Strasse Frankfurt / Main Tel.: (069) / homepage: Federal Republic of Germany 3 Abstract: After he had only tightly lost the election in July 2006, Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his Coalición claimed fraud and asserted that unfair conditions during the campaign had diminished his chances to win the presidency. The paper investigates this latter allegation centering on a perceived campaign of hate, unequal access to campaign resources and malicious treatment by the mass media. It further analyzes the mass media s performance during the conflictual post electoral period until the final decision of the Federal Electoral Tribunal on September 5 th, While the media s performance during the campaign tells us about their compliance with fair media coverage mechanisms that have been implemented by electoral reforms in the 1990s, the mass media is uncontained by such measures after the election. Thus, their mode of coverage of the postelectoral conflicts allows us to test the mass media s transformation to a more unbiased, social responsible fourth estate. Finally the paper scrutinizes whether the claims of fraud and the protests by the leftist movement resulted in lower levels of institutional trust and democratic support. The analysis of the media performance is based on data provided by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE). Its Media Monitor encompassed more than 150 TV stations, 240 radio stations and 200 press publications. However, there is no comparable data available for the postelectoral period. Interviews with Mexican media experts, which the author has conducted during the postelectoral period, serve as empirical basis for the second part. Data on the public opinions and attitudes of Mexican citizens are taken from the 2007 Latinobarometro, the 2006 Encuesta Nacional and several polls conducted by Grupo Reforma. The results do not support López Obradors notions. Even though a strong party bias is characteristic of the Mexican media system, all findings hint at a continuity of balanced campaign coverage and fair access to mass media publicity. Coverage during the postelectoral period was more polarized, yet both sides remained at least partially open for oppositional views. The claims of fraud, mass protest mobilization and anti-institutional discourse by Lopez Obrador s leftist movement seem not to have caused significant loss in institutional trust, support of and satisfaction with democracy, even though these levels remain quite low. 4 Content: 1. Introduction 7 2. Political Intermediation and Democracy Varieties of Political Intermediation The Rules of the Game Allocating Contracted Publicity Covering the Campaign Covering the Postelectoral Conflict A Danger for Mexico s Democracy? Democratic Support Effective Power to Govern Conclusion 35 Tables and Charts: Campaign Expenditures in Press, Radio and TV, January 19-June 28, Airtime in Radio and TV (Total and Primetime) 17 Shares of Media Coverage Total Amount of References (menciones) in all News Programs evluated by IFE 21 Percentage of Positive and Negative Valuations in Radio and TV News Programs 23 Embedded Democracy: Partial Regimes and Criteria 29 Trust in IFE and in TRIFE, January August Satisfaction with the Functioning of Democracy Allocation of Seats in both Parliamentary Chambers 6 1. Introduction 1 There is no road to democracy, democracy is the road pronounced public billboards in Mexico-City s metro stations in the summer of They ironically coincided with the Vote by vote, ballot box by ballot box choruses on the streets, which demanded a complete recount, and expressed distrust in the official election results and Mexico s democratic progress. The general election of July 2 has distributed 628 seats in both parliamentary chambers, created new governments and legislatures in nine states and elected both a new Legislative Assembly and Mayor for the capital s Distrito Federal. Nevertheless almost all public and international attention was absorbed by the presidential election, which had been forecast to be a very tight race. In the end the results of the first conteo rapido were too close to call and both candidates, the leftist Andres Manuel López Obrador and the PAN s Felipe Calderón, proclaimed themselves President-Elect, Mexico s citizens witnessed the beginning of a conflictual postelectoral period. These weeks saw the denunciation of electoral fraud by the defeated Coalición por el Bien de Todos (CPBT), mass mobilization and the increasing rejection of democratic institutions by the Coalition s candidate López Obrador. This paper is based on field research conducted in Mexico during that period, in the context of collecting data and conducting interviews for a larger research project, which comparatively explores the impacts of media concentration on the quality of democracy in Mexico and Italy. Here I will investigate whether partisan claims about fraudulent media performance are supported by an empirical analysis and whether the contestation of the election result has damaged the consolidation of Mexico s still young democracy. The Coalition s claims of electoral fraud, which were proclaimed for the first time on the day after the election and evolved over the subsequent weeks, follow two different lines of argumentation: The first argument revolves around inconsistencies and perceptions of the events in the electoral process. On July 4, López Obrador made the incendiary claim that three million ballots were missing (even though he knew perfectly well that they were in temporary storage in a preliminary archive of inconsistent results as part of the initial count (the socalled PREP)). 2 Later, the Coalition complained about fraude cíbernetico, an algorithm that supposedly had manipulated the PREP count. As layers of explanation were added, some Coalition members added a conspiracy theory of traditional fraud vote-buying, stuffed ballot boxes etc. Even though international observers noted several disturbing events from polling stations throughout the country, there is no proof of any significant aggregation of manipulations that would indicate a deliberate fraud in favour of the PAN s Felipe Calderón (Trejo Delarbre 2006b und 2006d, European Union 2006, NDI 2006, IFE 2006c, Salazar Ugarte 2007). In rendering the judgment that ended the electoral dispute (and made Calderón 1 The author thanks Dr. Paul Ross for his useful remarks and his correction of the translation. 2 On February 10, 2006 all parties and the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE), which carries out the elections, had agreed upon this archive of inconsistencies where unclear ballots were stored to be counted later in the district count, which is the basis for the final result. Thus, they were not included in the preliminary count PREP, but accessible through the IFEs website. 7 President) the Federal Electoral Tribunal TRIFE noted, among other facts, the presence of the Coalition s representatives in more than 96 percent of the polling stations throughout the country (El Universal, , p. A10), considered the recount results of more than ballot boxes and rejected the demand for nullification. The construction of a fraud, or a fraud of frauds ( el fraude del fraude ) (Murayama 2006) can be understood as the core of the Coalition s strategy and political rhetoric, which they employed in mass mobilizations as they sought official revocation of the election. The Coalition s second line of argument directed claims of fraud against the media and was focused on campaign events. Besides the illegal campaign interference of President Vicente Fox and the financing of television spots by private enterprises, a sustained smear campaign was the Coalition s central accusation. Assuming a relatively continuous development of media coverage over the last elections, such a manipulative media performance would be surprising. Numerous analyses have found that Mexican media coverage of elections has been increasingly balanced and fair, after the presumed fraud in the 1988 election triggered reforms of the electoral regime in 1993, 1994 and 1997 (Lawson 2002, Moreno 2003). Today, the Federal Code of Election Institutions and Processes (COFIPE) provides a legal frame for the sale of publicity to the parties and the media coverage of the campaigns, which is embedded in fair media coverage mechanisms (Mena 2005). Despite numerous safeguards, Mexico carries the legacy of more than 70 years of rule of the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution PRI, whose hegemony reached out into all spheres of political, social and economic activity and into the lifeworlds of citizens. Through collusion and co-optation the PRI contained and articulated all relevant social actors and can be described as a distributive mechanism that allocated political and administrative power on the local, state and federal level (Montemayor 2006: 90). Beginning in the 1970s, early electoral reforms made the success of opposition parties in local and regional elections possible, which in the long run challenged the PRI s hegemony. In 1988 the PRI presumably could only win the presidential election by fraud and finally, in 2000 lost the presidency to the Party of National Action, PAN. In the 2006 election, the crisis of the PRI becomes even more obvious: Although it remains in a powerful position as the only possible majority-provider in Congress for either PAN or López Obrador s PRD, the party that had ruled Mexico for more than seven decades did not win in a single state. Before Mexico s political transformation, which gained momentum during the 1990s, the media and the ruling party were closely interconnected: In Televisa, we re all soldiers of the PRI. 3 This paradigmatically expressed the tight cooperation between the ruling party and the private broadcast empire, which holds a market share of over 80 percent. Together with its only rival, TV Azteca network, which had emerged in 1993 through privatization of formerly state-owned stations, the two major private TV networks together control more than 90 percent of the television market. Additionally, Mexicans first and foremost obtain their politi- 3 Infamous quotation of Televisa s founder and owner (until his death in 1997), Emilio Azcárraga. (See Fernández/Paxman 2000). 8 cal information from TV sources and show relatively high trust in communication media. 4 According to a 2005 survey, 62 percent of respondents inform themselves via television, 17 percent via radio, and only 10 percent read newspapers (ENCUP 2005). Public (state-owned) media play only a marginal role in this realm. Mexico s deficient media regulation does not even provide a public media law, and neglects many pressing issues, such as independence, clear-cut financing and adjustment to digitalization processes. The scope of party promotion is small and overall, public media play a marginal role (see Ortega Ramírez 2006, La Red 2005). So the media in this context refers to the private broadcast media, i.e. radio and television. The press, most of all the national quality press (Reforma, El Universal, La Jornada) is an important agenda setter and opinion leader and thus influences other types of media, but readership numbers are low, particularly on a daily basis. 5 These features contribute to the fact that beside the natural amount of media power, the Mexican private media dispose of both the overall potential and the historical tradition of interpretive hegemony: Those who work in the politically relevant sectors of the media system (...) cannot but exert power, because they select and process politically relevant content and thus intervene in both the formation of public opinions and the distribution of influential interest (Habermas 2006: 418) The research interest of this paper is to evaluate not only media performance, but also how claims of fraud and anti-institutional mass mobilization affected the Mexican democracy and its consolidation process. Media performance during campaigns refers to (1) the mass media s mode of allocating contracted publicity space to political actors (parties and candidates), and (2) their mode of coverage of those actors. While the way in which parties buy time or space to publish their propaganda can be fixed legally in great detail, the latter is of more ambivalent nature. A certain degree of partisan bias is deeply inherent in any media system, as Hallin and Mancini (2004) have shown. Furthermore, the way in which a paper or a radio station covers a candidate or a campaign is also protected by the freedom of the press and journalistic independence. Legal provisions should not regulate how journalists cover an issue, even under a regime requiring objective coverage, but ought to appeal to fair coverage norms and monitor the media. The media s performance during the post-electoral period will serve as a test of their adherence to the rules of the democratic game. Whilst media performance during campaigns is legally regulated (mode of allocating publicity) or contained by fair media coverage mechanisms (mode of coverage), the media are unrestrained by this bridle after Election Day. Thus, their mode and tone of coverage of the conflict-laden political situation after the election reflects their more savage attitudes towards fair and balanced coverage, free from legal rules only valid during campaigns. 4 On a scale from 1(no trust) to 10 (much trust) the media obtains an average value of 7,4 and is ranked four, behind, doctors, the army, and the church. (ENCUP 2005: 10) 5 According to data provided by IPSOS-BIMSA (Estudio General de Medios), only 21 percent answered to have read the newspaper yesterday (free TV: 73%), but in the past 30 days this number increases to 66 percent (free TV: 97%). N= interviews. 9 Given these considerations, it is possible to shed light on the connection between the media s performance during the campaigns and the post-electoral conflict on the one hand and democratic consolidation on the other. Did the media eschew the legal and democratic rules and cause defects in the functioning of the electoral regime and the legitimation of the democratic system? From this, two central questions can be derived: (1) Can media performance exert profound influence on citizen s voting choices, sufficient to determine election outcomes and transport its party bias into broad public opinion? (2) Has the Mexican media done so, and thus disobeyed the legal rules with respect to democratic mechanisms? A second focus takes up the political debate and polarized rhetoric about the Coalition and López Obrador s performance after the election. It is not so much the mobilization of several million citizens and the installation of protest blockades in Mexico-City that have aroused worries about his commitment to democracy. It has been López Obrador s fierce nonacceptance of the election results culminating in his self-proclamation as legitimate president, his neglect and defamation of democratic institutions (and institutions in general) that refueled characterizations of López Obrador as a tropical messiah (Krauze 2006) and as a danger for Mexico. 6 Therefore my analysis must include a reflection on this behavior and the spread of institutional distrust regarding the presumed defects of Mexican democracy and the progress of the democratic consolidation process. This leads to another important question: (3) Did the post-electoral construction of electoral fraud and López Obrador s neglect of the electoral regime cause further defects in Mexico s democracy? 2. Political Intermediation and Democracy The critics of the media s performance during the campaigns often assumed that public opinion is directly generated by the war of advertising spots, by the opinions expressed in the news media and by the more or less hidden remarks on party preferences made in entertainment programs. In contrast to what the political debates about Mexico s latest election suggested, the relation between political communication and the public is manifold and deserves to be looked at in a more differentiated way. For this reason I will review the recent literature on political communication and democracy in order to answer the first question whether media performance, after all, can have a significant effect on the outcome of elections and the democratic system at large. First it will be necessary to distinguish different types, and secondly different effects of political communication. Third, I will focus on the demands of de- 6 In a series of spots by the PAN at the end of the campaigns he had been denounced as Danger for Mexico. The Federal Electoral Tribunal ordered later to stop the broadcasting of these spots. (Trejo Delarbre 2006d: 69-74). 10 mocracy what criteria can be derived from this research for the media performance during elections? 2.1. Varieties of Political Intermediation Rather than understanding the flow of political communication as a top-down vertical channel that makes information available to the governed citizens who are perceived as passive viewers who can be easily manipulated recent research has reinvigorated the perception of potentially active, selective citizens who receive and multiply information about politics to other citizens in a variety of ways. To limit the broad spectrum of communication, which can also be nonverbal or virtual, we instead use the term intermediation, referring to the varying channels and processes through which voters receive information about partisan politics during the course of election campaigns and are mobilized to support one party or another. (Gunther/Montero/Puhle 2007: 1). Thus, political information flows primarily through three main channels: interpersonal intermediation through (1) social networks such as families, neighbors, friends or colleagues and (2) organizations or secondary associations in which citizens are members and communicate or deliberate over political issues, and (3) impersonal intermediation via the mass media. The results of the Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) have shown (Gunther/Montero/Puhle 2007) that even though partisan ties may be low and the membership in political organizations decreasing, impersonal intermediation through the media has long been overestimated: Interactive and repeated communication with credible and consistently politicized sources of information such as that which tends to take place with interpersonal discussants is potentially more influential as a source of both persuasive messages and trustworthy and usable political cues. In contrast, impersonal communication, lack of perceivable shared interests, and ambiguous or multiple and contradictory messages understandably diminish the potential for influence. (Magalhães 2007: 242) Thus, an analysis of media performance in the campaigns before Mexico s elections of 2006 and during the post-electoral conflicts can only result in knowledge about one channel of political information, and even a highly manipulative party -bias would not automatically determine favorable public opinion towards one party, but merely be introduced to interpersonal discussion networks. The problem with basing analysis on media performance during and after the Mexican campaign is that it only focuses on impersonal intermediation. The second perception that has recently been corrected is that of the passive media consumer, who becomes less interested in politics and more c
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks