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Interim mayor takes office in Morelia

January 7, 2012

Following last week’s annulment of the November election in Morelia, businessman Manuel Nocceti Tiznado has been named interim mayor of the Michoacan state capital.

Approved by a majority vote in the State Congress, Nocceti is director general of Grupo Gasomich, a fuel industry business. He will govern until a new election is called within 150 days.

The election on November 13 was won by Wilfrido Lazaro Medina of the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), but the Toluca Regional Court of the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF) annulled the outcome last week. Lazaro was found to have broken campaign law by appearing for five minutes in a television campaign for Fausto Vallejo, the PRI candidate for governor of Michoacan.

Another factor in the annulment was boxer Juan Manuel Marquez’s controversial decision to flaunt the PRI logo on his shorts at a high-profile fight on the eve of the election. Marquez’s bout with Manny Pacquaio in Las Vegas was the most-watched sports event of the year in Mexico.

Displaying the PRI logo before such a large audience was considered a violation of campaign law by the electoral tribunal. Marquez said the PRI did not win because of the logo emblazoned on his shorts and lamented the fact that this had contributed to the annulment ruling.

The PRI released a statement denying all responsibility and affirming there is no evidence they paid for this propaganda, while Marquez refuted any suggestion he had been instructed to wear the party emblem.

“I put it there myself out of personal conviction. I can be partisan, as they say … my team is the PRI. I can use the logo,” said Marquez, citing “freedom of expression.”

This contradicts his statement made at the time, when he said he was given the shorts by his team but did not notice their significance. Marquez had claimed he was focused on the fight and was unaware that elections were taking place in Michoacan.

The court decided the stunt may have influenced voters in Morelia, although there is no reason why it would have had a greater effect on this mayoral election than the state-wide gubernatorial election which the PRI also won.

The ruling has set a strong precedent, with the National Action Party (PAN) arguing the gubernatorial election should also be annulled. Yet the outcome was not as close as that of the mayoral contest, which Wilfido Lazaro Medina won by just 2,317 votes.

While no landslide, the gubernatorial election was won by a decisive two-percent margin, with Fausto Vallejo claiming 35 percent of the vote to the 33 percent won by the president’s sister, Luisa Maria Calderon.

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