The 2018 presidential elections in Mexico made me reflect on the state of civil society in the country and its impact on election processes.
With a positive heart, I can say that non-profits, think tanks, and NGO’s all along the political spectrum played a decisive role in deciding the future of our Latinamerican nation. Some organizations associated with universities, others with private sectors, others highly politicized; or the independents which are neither.
I’d like to further elaborate on why they were so crucial to our elections from the scope of one particular organization that single-handedly changed, in four months, the landscape of campaigning and politics: Verificado MX (Spanish for Verified). Verificado (https://verificado.mx/) is unearthed as a group of journalists with the interest of serving the civil society by fighting against false news and data included speeches of all presidential candidates, and generate content that would help explain the different stages of the electoral process.
This is their legacy.
1. Information backed on Data
The addition of adding technical expertise on research kind of enlightened the general public and made them more critical of messaging was thrown at them. Verificado’s methodology included the examination of the source of news and compared information through a vast database (publicly accesed) opinions of analysts, political scientists, and economists as well as studies of the highest quality to prove them wrong or right.
2. They served to verify every piece of information and hold politicians accountable to their word.
Verificado dedicated hours of intense research on data the presidential candidates included in their speeches to let the public know which information was true, half true, and which was false.
3. They engaged civil society effectively.
Verificado was neutral and always remained neutral in a historic run to the polls in Mexico. Civil society was invited to send news to the team of Verificado – via Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter – and the team would then select news and start their research. Once the information was verified, the team would publish results in all their outlets. This is what engaging the civil society looks like.
Although Verificado was created for one purpose only and that was to regulate accountability in the recent presidential election, it was later dismantled as the greatest unsung hero our modern politics.
Something I have always admired of the US is how the civil society immediately finds the way to populate and address issues right where the private sector or governments have fallen short to deliver. I was a witness of that exact movement happening in my country which fast forwarded us light years into our rightful place in the developing world.
Mexicans hope Verificado comes back and that their rise inspires future leaders to come.