Mexico: left makes moderate gains in elections

As of early on July 6, with 99.51% of polling places counted, Mexican officials said former M茅xico state governor Enrique Pe帽a Nieto of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had been elected president with 38.22% of the valid votes cast on July 1. Center-left candidate Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador followed with 31.57% of the votes, and Josefina V谩zquez Mota from the ruling center-right National Action Party (PAN) came in third with 25.42%. Gabriel Quadri, the candidate of the centrist New Alliance Party (Panal), trailed with 2.28%. The results鈥攚hich matched a rapid count the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) carried out the evening of July 1鈥攆ollowed a substantial recount of the votes after charges of irregularities.

L贸pez Obrador’s showing this year was not as good as in 2006, when he lost by about 0.5% in a questionable official count. However, his total was much larger than most opinion polls had predicted, although some pollsters had suggested that he was gaining momentum towards the end of the race. The states he carried鈥擥uerrero, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Tlaxcala, along with the Federal District (DF, Mexico City)鈥攁re the impoverished southern states that have tended to be the center of much of Mexico’s political activism. (La Jornada, July 6)

Like L贸pez Obrador, the center-left coalition that backed him performed well in the July 1 voting, although not as well as a similar coalition had done in 2006. The Progressive Movement regained the number-two position in the Chamber of Deputies of the federal Congress with 136 of the 500 seats鈥101 for the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), 19 for the Labor Party (PT) and 16 for the Citizens’ Movement. The PRI and its ally, the small Ecological Green Party of Mexico (PVEM), got a combined total of 240 seats, 11 less than the absolute majority it needs to avoid compromises with other parties. The PAN slipped to third place with 114 seats. Panal won 10.

The center-left parties slipped in the Senate, whose members are elected every six years. The PRI and PVEM will have 61 of the 128 seats, followed by the PAN with 38, the Progressive Movement with 28 (22 for the PRD, four for the PT and two for the Citizens’ Movement). Panal won one seat. The PAN was the largest group in the previous Senate, followed by the PRI-PVEM and the center-left parties. (El Universal, Caracas, July 10)

The center-left coalition did better in the DF and in the seven states that elected governors on July 1. Progressive Movement candidates won in Morelos and Tabasco, two states the left had never succeeded in winning before. The PRI held on to Yucat谩n and took Jalisco from the PAN, while the PVEM won Chiapas in alliance with the PRI and Panal. The PAN retained Guanajuato, its only win in the state races. The PRD continues to dominate politics in the DF, which it has governed since 1997; PRD candidate Miguel 脕ngel Mancera was elected the head of government (mayor) with 63.56% of the vote. (Informador, Guadalajara, July 9; El Economista, Mexico, July 3)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 15.

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