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Special 080707 BC elections

August 7, 2007

Analysis: The Baja California, Mexico Elections

By Kenn Morris and Flavio Olivieri

August 6, 2007 – As of today, 91% of the votes in Sunday’s Baja California, Mexico, elections have been counted, with what some are considering a surprising spread of more than 54,000 votes in favor of José Guadalupe Osuna Millán (with 50.6% [PAN-Alianza por Baja California]) over Jorge Hank Rhon (43.7% [PRI-Alianza para que Vivas Mejor]), in what appears to be an major victory for the PAN (National Action Party).  Other parties received less than 6% of the total vote.

Both former mayors of Tijuana, the PAN victory comes after a strong campaign by Jorge Hank Rhon replete with election court challenges, accusations of political interference by both major parties, but a largely peaceful election day with minor cases of irregularities — including accusations of people handing out phone cards as well as money in exchange for votes, and dozens of pre-filled ballots found at various locations.  Looking forward, with the new governor taking power on November 1, 2007, expect a new state team with heavy representation from Tijuana.

In addition to the governor’s race, mayoral races also took place in Baja California’s five municipalities.  With the exception of what appear to be landslide victories for the PAN-Alianza por Baja California mayoral candidate in Mexicali (Rodolfo Valdez Gutiérrez, with over 21,700 votes in favor, for a 51% win), and the PRI-Alianza para que Vivas Mejor candidate in Rosarito (Hugo Torres, with nearly 5,500 votes in favor, for a 58.9% win), the PAN appears to be edging out victories in most municipalities.  Still too close to call, but likely PAN wins: Jorge Ramos Hernández (PAN-Alianza por Baja California) is maintaining a slight edge of 7,700 votes (48.7%) in Tijuana; as is Pablo Alejo López Núñez (PAN-Alianza por Baja California) in Ensenada with 1,100 votes (45.8%); and Donaldo Peñaloza (PAN-Alianza por Baja California) in Tecate with 660 votes (46.9%) in favor.  The new mayors will take power on December 1, 2007.

The unicameral Baja California State Congress also appears to have undergone a major turnover, with 14 of the 16 plurality vote seats going to candidates of the PAN-Alianza por Baja California (two for the PRI alliance). Another nine seats will be allocated based on proportional representation; however it appears the new PAN governor will have a majority in the state legislature.

Abstencionísmo” — or the lack of voter participation — has often been called the “winning candidate” in many recent elections, due to low voter turnout rates.  However, the 2007 elections appear to have mobilized the Baja California public, resulting in a higher-than-expected turnout of approximately 41% of eligible voters.  While clearly lower than one might hope, it is useful to note that — in comparison — only approximately 39% of eligible voters in California actually participated in the November 2006 elections.

A BorderBills Alert from Crossborder Group Inc.

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Kenn Morris is CEO and President, and Flavio Olivieri is Vice President-Mexico of Crossborder Group Inc., a crossborder market research, strategy, and consulting firm with offices in San Diego and Tijuana.  They can be reached at (619) 710-8120, or via email at answers@crossborderbusiness.com.

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Chart: Crossborder Group Inc.