The best assessment of Mexico’s recent presidential election is the ruling handed down by the Federal Election Tribunal (TEPJF) on the challenges submitted by the Coalition for the Good of All (Coalición por el bien de Todos). The tribunal found that there had been improper meddling by the president of the republic; an illegal fear-mongering campaign orchestrated against López Obrador by business and some civil organizations; and a smear campaign waged by the national television networks. While acknowledging that all of these irregularities occurred, the tribunal, astonishingly, did not consider them grounds to annul the election. The tribunal’s decision is at the center of the country’s current political crisis and democratic regression.

A Setback for Alternating

This is the best way to describe the current political situation in Mexico. At both the federal and state level, it is very clear that the process of transition to an alternating-party system of power, which began with the state governorships in 1989 and continued with the presidential election in 2000, has hit an impasse.

The country’s institutions were not up to the task. The entire regulatory and institutional framework, forged by Mexican society and political parties as a basic instrument of the transition to democracy, cracked in this year’s presidential election. Neither the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) nor the TEPJF were up to the challenge posed by a hard-fought contest marked by the legal or paralegal intervention of extremely powerful economic interests and the de facto powers that rule this country.

The IFE’s ineptitude, especially in tallying the votes but also beforehand, in its extreme pusillanimity and its powerlessness to halt the dirty war against López Obrador, raises many questions about its capacity to fulfill its duties. Moreover, the tribunal’s ruling that irregularities did occur but