Mexico’s mid-term elections on Sunday have been marred by one of its bloodiest campaigns, even in a country known for its drug cartel wars and soaring homicides.
Left-wing President Andres Manuel López Obrador’s ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party and its allies are hoping to head-off an opposition challenge and keep their majority in the lower House of Congress.
But in recent weeks, Mexican media have been running daily stories of threats, kidnappings, attacks and murders committed against candidates, campaign aides and election officials, that have mostly been blamed on the country’s powerful drug cartels and crime groups that permeate local politics.
media captionWatch: the Mexican mayor refusing to give in to violence as she stands for a second term
The cartels – or the “party of organised crime” as government officials term them – have been using bribery and violence to try to influence many of the election races, seeking to lever in candidates favourable to their interests.
Some observers conservatively report an election campaign toll of nearly 90 killed, but others say the number of election-related homicides is closer to 150.
“The election is 6 June, but [organised] crime has already voted,” commentator Paola Rojas wrote in leading Mexican daily El Universal on 31 May.
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On the political front, Sunday’s elections are being viewed as a referendum on the leftist rule of 67-year-old López Obrador, who is popularly known by his initials, Amlo.