Mexico’s Elections [UPDATED]

With little surprise, Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI, the party that governed Mexico from 1929-2000, won the presidential election, garnering 38-39% of the votes and with a 7-point lead over runner up Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the early counts. Of course, unlike many Latin American countries, there is no run-off in Mexico, so the fact that Peña Nieto seems to have fallen short of 40% of the vote does not matter in this case. In his acceptance speech, he signaled that, while the PRI’s return after 12 years of PAN governments may mark a shift, it is unclear whether his tactics for and approaches toward drug cartels will change, as he declared “there will be no deals or truce with organized crime.” Regarding other possible paths for the Peña Nieto presidency, Greg has some brief comments on (unfounded) optimism for PEMEX, the state-run oil company. And hopefully Peña Nieto has been able to do a little bit more reading since last fall.

While yesterday marked the return of the PRI to the presidency for the first time since 2000, Mexicans voted for leaders at state and city levels as well worth looking at.

  • The PRD may have fallen short of the presidency again, but it did manage to win six states in elections for senate, compared to 9 for the PRI and PAN each (the servers are apparently currently down for deputy elections). While that still puts the PRD’s coalition in a minority, it is an increase over the 2006 elections; additionally, nationwide, the PRD garnered more votes in the election (nearly 11.5 million) than any other party, showing that while López Obrador is not the person to break the PRI/PAN hold on the presidency, the party itself seems to be gaining support.
  • In Mexico City, the PRD (Democratic Revolution Party) appears to have again won the mayorship of the Distrito Federal, with Miguel Angel Mancera defeating the PRI and PAN candidates. The election itself is notable for a few reasons, including the fact that PRD has won the Distrito Federal in every election since 1997, and the office is important not only to shaping national politics, but also as a possible platform for the launch of national candidates for the PRD (including López Obrador, who was mayor from 2000-2005 and who lost an extremely-close election in 2006 and lost again to Peña Nieto yesterday).
  • [UPDATE] The deputy results are now in, too. The PRD coalition made major gains there, finishing with 70 deputies elected, with the PAN getting 53, the PRI 52, and 125 going to other parties. This of course is a major development, too, as no single party has an absolute majority in the chamber of Deputies, meaning Peña Nieto is going to have to rely on coalition politics in order to get his political agendas enacted. It will be very interesting going forward to see how Congress works with Peña Nieto and whether the PAN and/or PRD [or members of either] opt to form a coalition or to form a strong opposition to Peña Nieto and the PRI.

Overall, it seems like a victory for the PRI at the federal level, but with real gains for the PRD at the grassroots level. The PAN hasn’t fallen away, but it is also clear that many Mexican voters had grown tired of PAN leadership at the national and state levels for any number of reasons; certainly, that likely includes discontent with the increasing drug violence during the administration of Felipe Calderón, but there are any number of reasons people voted PRI or PAN, from platform to economic policy to the “bread-and-butter” issues. It will be interesting to see how the PRI under Peña Nieto governs after twelve years out of the presidency, but that won’t be the only thing to watch; both the futures of the PRD and PAN, and how they respond to this election and to a (temporarily) revitalized PRI, should also prove interesting. But for the next six years, at least, the PRI will be the party of the presidency, for better or for worse.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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