Mexicans vote in mid-term congressional elections on Sunday and the most remarkable thing about the whole affair is that so many voters are planning to cast their ballots for no one. The "voto en blanco" or "voto nulo" movement calls for the nullifying of a ballot by placing a huge X across the entire sheet, a gesture of protest and dissatisfaction with the political parties and the entire Mexican political system. Grassroots, decentralized, and non-ideological, the movement is picking up steam.
And why not? The economy is faltering. The traumatic, trippy and only vaguely rationalized narco war has no end in sight. None of the parties' platforms offer a fundamentally radical shift from the country's current course, or if they do, there's little reason to believe anything a Mexican politician says or promises.
Indeed, as much as 70% of voters are expected to stay away from the polls on Sunday. The ruling PAN is hoping to expand or at least hold on to its bloc, but most analysts and polls suggest the resurgent PRI will be declared the winner overall on Monday. Voto nulo is not expected to crack 10% of votes cast, a small figure but an undeniably bold message in the long run.
Supporters of voto nulo that I've spoken with -- known by some as anulacionistas -- say they're fed up with what they call a charade of a system. They range from disgruntled ex-politicians, to middle-class elites and active left-wingers, undeterred by the criticism that voto nulo would only weaken Mexico's nascent democracy.
"What kind of democracy are we talking about?" said Benjamin Argumento. "The people voted in 1988 for Cárdenas. Cárdenas won the election, and they didn't let him govern. The people voted for López Obrador in 2006. López Obrador won the election, and they didn't let him govern. The candidates we have today are from the media, from the corporations, who will not give any result, any benefit, for the citizens."
* This is the first election in Mexico in which I am able to participate as a voter. I'm still not sure how I will mark my ballot. More on Monday.