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Feature 062512 Grayson

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mexico's July 1, 2012 Elections include Gubernatorial Races

By George W. Grayson


Attention has focused on Mexico's July 1 presidential showdown in which Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) of the Institutional Revolutionary Party/PRI holds a decisive lead over the messianic Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who is backed by the Party of the Democratic Revolution/PRD, Workers Party/PT/, and Citizens' Movement/MC.  Josefina Vázquez Mota (JVM), of the National Action Party/PAN, is running third, while Gabriel Quadri de la Torre (GQT), candidate of the teachers' union's National Alliance Party/PANAL, is far behind.

As the  battle for the Los Pinos presidential residence enters its final week, contests in the Federal District (DF) and six states offer multiple insights into (1) the vaunted  "Peña Nieto effect," (2) the near-certainty that the PAN will fail to follow in President Felipe Calderón's footsteps, while losing state houses in its Jalisco and Morelos redoubts, (3) the outside chance that two savvy veterans on the Left will pull off upsets in Morelos and Tabasco, and (4) the growing #YoSoy132 student protest movement, which has been christened the "Mexican Spring."

Gubernatorial Contests

State Governor and other Elections

PRI Candidate

PAN Candidate

Leftist Candidate(s)


Chiapas (Chis)

Juan Sabines Guerrero (PRD-PT-MC);


Governor elected on Aug. 18; (other state elections on July 1); 41 state deputies; 122 municipalities.

Manuel Velasco Coello (PRI/PVEM/PANAL); born 7 April 1980; Tuxtla Gutiérrez; studied law; state deputy; federal deputy; senator (2006-12).

Emmanuel Nivón González; born 10 Nov. 1979; Tapachula; liberal arts degree; worked in state gov't; elected Tapachula mayor in 2011.

Maria Elena Orantes López; born 24 July 1968; Tuxtla Gutiérrez; two MAs; served as state and federal deputy; senator (2006-12); bolted PRI 1/2012.

A late May poll (Buendía
& Laredo) showed the
PVEM's Velasco clobbering
(47%) Orantes (17%)
and Nivón González (9%).

Federal District (DF)

Marcel Ebrard

PRD-PT-MC coalition.


Mayor; 66 Legislative Assembly deputies; 16 borough chiefs.

Beatriz Paredes Rangel (PRI/PVEM); born 18 Aug. 1953, San Esteban Tizatlán, Tlaxcala; studied sociology; numerous public posts: Tlaxcala governor (1987-92); amb. to Cuba; federal deputy; PRI president (2007-10).

Isabel Miranda de Wallace; born 1951; DF; pres. of "Halt Kidnappings," formed after the abduction/death of her son; won National Human Rights prize.

Miguel Ángel Mancera (PRD/PT/MC); born 16 Jan. 1966; law degree (UNAM); DF Attorney General.

In an early-June poll
(El Univeral)
(69%) trounced Paredes
(16%), Wallace
and PANAL nominee
Rosario Guerra Díaz

Guanajuato (Gto)

Juan Manuel Oliva Ramírez (PAN)


Governor; 36 state deputies; 46 municipalities.

Juan Ignacio "Juani" Torres Landa (PRI/PVEM); born 8 Oct. 1955; León; mayor of San José Iturbide; federal deputy; twice ran poorly for governor 2000 (PRI) and 2006 (PRI-PRD).

Miguel Márquez Márquez; born 11 Nov. 1968; Purisima del Rincón; degrees in philosophy and law;  post-graduate study.

The extremely weak Left fielded three aspirants: (1) Víctor Arnulfo Montes de la Vega/PRD, (2) Ernesto Prieto Ortega/PT, and (3) Enrique Eguiarte Alvarado/MC.

In a late May poll
(El Universal), Márquez
(50.3%) led Torres Landa
the PRI aspirant
will need an overwhelming
"Peña Nieto effect" to win
this PAN bastion.

Jalisco (Jal)

Emilio González Márquez (PAN)


Governor; 39 state deputies; 125 municipalities.

Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval (PRI/PVEM) born 22 Jan., 1974; MA in politics and public administration (U. of Guadalajara); Gljra councilman, state deputy; Gljra mayor (2009-12).

Fernando Guzmán Pérez Peláez; born 21 Jan., 1956; Jal; state and federal deputy; state secretary general (2006-11).

Small parties: (1) Enrique Alfara Ramírez (MC/ PT/ Morena); PRI city councilman, PRD state deputy; mayor of Tlajomulco (2010-12); (2) Fernando Garza Mtz (PRD; ex-Gljra mayor; (3) MA los Angeles Mtz (SNTE/PANAL).

A late May poll (El
) put the
PRI/PVEM standard-
bearer (45%) ahead
of Guzmán Pérez
(30.1%) in second
place; many
are expected to back

Morelos (Mor)

Marco Antonio Adame Castillo (PAN)


Governor; 30 state deputies; 125 municipalities.

José Amado Orihuela Trejo (PRI/ PVEM/ PANAL); born 5 Jan. 1954; studied agronomy (U. Autónoma de Chapingo); active in the PRI's National Confederation of Campesinos; federal deputy; state deputy (2009-12).

Adrián Rivera Pérez; born Morelos; degree in industrial tech U. Autónoma de Morelos; state and federal deputy; Cuernavaca mayor; senator (2006-12); close to conserva-tive ex-PAN pres. Manuel Espino.

Graco Ramírez Garrido Abreu; born 26 June 1949; VSA; law degree UNAM); product of Mexico's traditional Left-PST, PSM, PRD; thrice federal deputy; PRD senator ­­­­­­­(2006-12); the PSD's contender, Julio Yáñez Moreno, 33, will finish last.

Ramírez (39.7%) and
(38.2%) were
in a dead-heat in mid-
(El Universal ); AMLO,
who dislikes seasoned
politician Graco Ramírez,
direct his Morena
zealots to back Ori
the rising violence and
misgovernance of
spell disaster for Rivera

Tabasco (Tab)

Andrés Granier Melo (PRI)


Governor; 35 state deputies; 17

municipal governments.

Jesús Ali de la Torre (PRI/PVEM/PANAL); born 22 May 1963; Villahermosa/VSA;  degree in Int'l Relations (U. of the Americas); state deputy; mayor of VSA (2010-11); erstwhile Núnez Jiménez subordinate in Gobernación Ministry.

Gerardo Priego Tapia; born 19 June, 1965, economics degree (ITESM); MA (NYU); Ph.D student (UNAM); private sector; worked in SEDESOL; posts-PAN  pres. Campeche; federal deputy (2006-09). 

Arturo Núñez Jiménez (PRD/ PT/ MC); born 23 Jan., 1948; VSA; econ. decree (UNAM); key PRI leader (1965-2005); sub-sec'y of Gobernación); federal deputy; PRD senator 2006-12).

Ali de la Torre, who
distanced himself
priístas, led Núñez
Jiménez 41.4% to
in early May
AMLO's 6% drop in support
in the South in May will
hurt Núñez Jiménez.


Yucatán (Yuc)

Ivonne Ortega Pacheco (PRI)


Governor; 25 state

deputies; 106 municipalities

Rolando Zapata Bello; (PRI/PVEM); born 11 Aug. 1967; Mérida, Yuc; law degree; state gov't posts, state PRI president; state deputy; campaign coordinator for Ortega Pacheco

Joaquín Díaz Mena; born 16 Aug. 1974; San Felipe, Yuc; MAs in public adminis-tration (U. Anáhuac and economics (UNAM); San Felipe mayor; PAN state deputy; dele-gate of the Public Education Ministry.

Erick Villanueva Mukal PRD/PT/MC); born 16 Oct. 1953; Tekit, Yuc; degree in econ. (U. Autónoma de Yuc.); PhD (Havana U.); scholar, advisor to National Farm Workers Union.

The outgoing governor,
an old-school político
learned to
mobilize voters
her uncle, ex-Gov.
Víctor Cervera Pacheco;
her dauphin Zapata Bello
is a shoo-in, as
seen in an early June poll
(El Universal).

Glossary of Abbreviations:

AMLO                    Andrés Manuel López Obrador, presidential standard-bearer of the PRD, PT, and MC, who narrowly lost to the presidency in 2006, refused to recognize Calderón as chief executive, and promptly declared himself the nation's "legitimate president."

CEN                        National Executive Committee.

IFE                          Federal Electoral Institute registers voters, provides generous public funding to registered parties, conducts elections, and reports preliminary results.

Knights Templars  A Michoacán-centered cartel whose leaders torture and decapitate victims supposedly because they are doing the "Lord's work."

Los Zetas                Extremely brutal paramilitaries who began as body guards for the capo of the Matamoros-based Gulf Cartel, but later began acting on their own.

MC                          Citizens Movement (formerly Convergencia): small opportunist leftist party.

MORENA              National Renovation Movement: An eclectic group of López Obrador diehards.

PANAL                   National Alliance Party: a party formed in 2005 and dominated by the notoriously controversial Elba Esther "La Maestra" Gordillo, the powerful head of the 1.2-million member National Education Workers' Union (SNTE);

PRD                        Party of the Democratic Revolution: largest force on the Left, but riven by half a dozen competing currents, of which the moderate "Chuchos" is the largest.

PSM                       Mexican Socialist Party: small leftist party that lost its registration in 1982.

PST                         Socialist Workers Party: a moderate leftist party created in 1975 that is now defunct.

PT                           Workers' Party: small opportunistic party originally created by the PRI to divide the Left.

PVEM                    The Mexican Green Ecological Party, which is really an opportunistic small business presided over by Jorge Emilio González and his family.

Registration          The requirement that a party capture 2% of the vote to retain ballot access and IFE funding; a party can lose its national registration, but retain it in a state or city.

SEDESOL              Social Development Ministry: a federal program to combat poverty and advance development.

#YoSoy132            Twitter hash tag for "I am number 132" -- a protest movement led by middle-class students; aimed at the Televisa, Azteca and other special interests, and Peña Nieto. Elements of the group back AMLO.


The PRI will be the major victor on July 1.  A poll published by the respected Reforma newspaper on June 20 showed Peña Nieto (42%) well ahead of López Obrador (30%), followed by the PAN's Josefina Vázquez Mota (24%), and the PANAL's Quadri de la Torre (4%).  A survey in El Universal on June 19 also found EPN with a commanding lead.

The self-styled "revolutionary" party is on its way to recapturing Los Pinos, strengthening its formidable machinery, and electing favorable governors in Jalisco and Chiapas, now in opposition hands.  In all likelihood, the self-styled "revolutionary" party will benefit from the anticipated low turnout, arising from disenchantment toward politics, fear of narco-violence, and widespread belief in a Peña Nieto triumph.  

The PRI's superior structure is vital inasmuch as a soaring number of citizens do not identify with a particular party and, when interviewed, indicate a readiness to split their tickets.  Indeed, former President Vicente Fox Quesada (PAN, 2000-06) has endorsed Peña Nieto -- a mixed blessing for the PRI standard-bearer.  Although the controversial Elba Esther Gordillo's PANAL left the alliance promoting the ex-Mexico State governor, the head of SNTE's National Political Action Committee scheduled a meeting with the PRI nominee on June 22.  This overture signals La Maestra's determination to be on the winner's side.

In addition, the PRI will bring some young governors into the fold as "Peña Nieto Look-a-Likes" -- that is, individuals such as Yucatán's Rolando Zapata Bello, a presentable 44-year-old who projects the image of the "New PRI" but is the handmaiden of Ortega Pacheco from whom Machiavelli could take lessons.

In its move to build a new generation of leaders, the PRI -- like the PAN -- is concentrating on big city mayoral races in states where it could lose.  A case in point is the PRI's lavish supports for Bárbara Botello in León.  She represents a "safety net" and, if successful, could exert influence in Guanajuato's politics and even emerge as a future contender for governor or federal positions. 

As in 2000 when panista candidates benefited from Fox's decisive victory, PRI contenders hoped to gain from Peña Nieto's early popularity.  The tightening of the race in May temporarily shrunk the length of the candidate's coattails, but he bounced back and a robust performance for the ex-Mexico State governor will help his party's candidates in Tabasco and Morelos.

Peña Nieto's party boasts 20 governors, many of whom enjoy impunity as virtual viceroys in their bailiwicks.  However, when they become overly arrogant and high-handed, they have difficulty imposing successors.  Such was the case in Tabasco, where Gov. Granier ran afoul of the local PRI elite when he tried to dictate his state's gubernatorial nominee.

As usual, the three leftist parties -- PRD, PT, and MC -- managed to agree on a single candidate only in the DF, Morelos, and Tabasco.  Still, the Left will pile up a landslide in the DF and is competitive, although trailing, in Tabasco or Morelos. Winning one of those states plus Mexico City would make it the biggest winner on July 1 after the PRI.

The PAN appears poised to be the emphatic loser. Poor campaign management and missteps have plagued Vázquez Mota presidential bid; in Mexico City, Miranda de Wallace, who is not a PAN member, will lose badly, indicating that social reformers seldom excel in elective politics; and the opposition is on track to win Jalisco (PRI) and Morelos (PRI or the Left).   If 2000 marked the "rise" of National Action, 2012 may constitute its fall. Any "healing operation" will be protracted and extremely difficult.

Across the board, most gubernatorial candidates have focused their careers not in Mexico City but in the states they hope to serve -- an indication of a decentralizing trend.  They have stressed local issues such as the opening of a new oil refinery in Guanajuato.  The common denominator throughout the country is narco-violence -- with a farrago of proposals on how to combat it.

Will the #YoSoy132 movement evolve into a Mexican version of the "Arab Spring" as some have predicted?  The youthful effervescence erupted in a May 11 session at the elite Ibero-American University when jeers and heckling forced Peña Nieto to exit the school's auditorium.  The movement spread to the prestigious Monterrey Technological Institute of Superior Studies (ITESM) and other campuses, and 98 student groups met at UNAM in early June.  The group, which has declared itself "autonomous, independent of parties, and anti-neoliberal," embraces some supporters of AMLO.

Unlike their Middle East counterparts, the youthful protesters have not suffered repression at the hands of the regime.  Leadership disputes and fragmentation appear inevitable. One astute analyst stated that: "The activists began in a ‘post-modern' form ... and evolved into a traditional ‘movement.'" They have urged the media to "democratize," "inform the people," and not "manipulate" them.  With a few exceptions, they are seeking to change the political scene from within, rather than employ social media to alert the international community to the country's boss-ridden government in which outsiders have little or no influence over incumbent office-holders.  Although 8.5 million young people are eligible to vote, it is doubtful whether most will cast ballots in view of Peña Nieto's strong performance and their disdain for the regimen.

PRD President Jesús Zambrano has warned that Los Zetas and the Knights Templars, and possibly other criminal organizations, will commit atrocities in the days before the election to enhance their "cartel cred" as vicious, brutal crime syndicates. After all, Los Zetas killed the PRI's gubernatorial candidate in Tamaulipas two years ago, and approximately 30 mayors, many along drug-trafficking routes, have perished. Most contenders have squads of bodyguards, and officials in Michoacán warn of possible violence in Cherán, Tancítaro, Apatizgán, and 17 other municipalities plagued by the Knights Templars.

Yet, in most of the country it appears that cartel brutality depends less on the electoral calendar than on the settling of scores between/among cartels.  That is, the Cadereyta, Nuevo León, bloodbath (49 to 60 bodies/May 13, 2012) was Los Zetas' response either to the Lake Chapala, Jalisco, killings (20 dismembered bodies/May 9, 2012) or the Nuevo Laredo executions (23 dead/April 23). 

Similarly, the Guadalajara bloodshed (26 cadavers/Nov. 24, 2011) marked Los Zetas' revenge for the massacre of their cadres in Veracruz (35 bodies/Sept. 20, 2011), etc.  If correct, this tit-for-tat process has its own dynamic separate from date(s) on which elections take place.  The terrible elements are the number of innocents killed and the mounting body count, the latter having surpassed 43,000 since Felipe Calderón swore the presidential oath on December 1, 2006.


In the final analysis, the Mexican electorate seeks executives, legislators, and mayors who will govern responsibly and enhance security in their homes, schools, streets, and workplaces.


George W. Grayson, Class of 1938 Professor of Government Emeritus at the College of William & Mary, is a senior associate at CSIS and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.  His latest book (co-authored with Samuel Logan) focuses on the sadistic cartel, Los Zetas: The Executioner's Men: Los Zetas, Rogue Soldiers, Criminal Entrepreneurs, and the Shadow State They Created (Transaction Press, 2012).
Copyright © 2012 George W. Grayson (published here with permission)