Monday, July 9, 2012
Mexico's Election and the PRI/Peña Nieto Triumph
On July 1st, presidential elections were held in Mexico.
There were four candidates:
- 1. Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI
(Partido Revolucionario Institucional) and PVEM (Partido Verde Ecologista de México).
- 2. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (often referred to as AMLO) of the PRD (Partido de la
Revolución Democrática), PT (Partido del Trabajo), and Movimiento Ciudadano.
- 3. Josefina Vazquez Mota of PAN (Partido Acción Nacional).
- 4. Gabriel Quadri de la Torre of PANAL (Partido de la Nueva Alianza).
The winner was Enrique Peña Nieto.
Mexico's electoral system has its similarities and differences with that of the United States. For a description
thereof, I invite the reader to consult my article Elections in Mexico and the US: Comparisons and Contrasts.
My family and I were in
Mexico for most of June. We departed Mexico on July 1st, the day of the election. I accompanied my Mexican wife,
her parents, and her aunt to the polling station and observed the voting. (Of course, I myself did not vote, not being a Mexican
For years I've been impressed with the Mexican voter registration
system, which is better than the slipshod registration system north of the border. In the U.S., many states don't
require ID, and most don't require a photo ID.
The Mexican voter registration
system includes a government-issued ID card with a photo, fingerprint and holographic image. The poll workers have a
book containing the photograph of every voter in the precinct, which they can check against that of the photo ID.
My wife and her family are staunch PANistas, so they of course
voted for Josefina for president. In contrast to the two previous elections, however, the PAN lost this time.
According to the IFE (Instituto Federal Electoral), Mexico's electoral authority,
here are the final results:
- 1. Enrique Peña Nieto was the
winner with 38.21% of the vote.
- 2. AMLO was the runner-up with 31.59%
of the vote.
- 3. Josefina came in third with 25.41% of the vote.
- 4. Quadri finished a distant fourth with a whopping 2.29% of the vote.
Notice that no candidate won a majority of the vote. In Mexico only a plurality is
necessary. Since there are three major political parties, it's highly unlikely that any candidate is going to win
Once again, Enrique Peña Nieto is the winner,
and he is slated to take office on December 1st, 2012.
AMLO is disputing the election results, as he did six years ago when he was the runner-up, though the election was a lot closer
The PRI ran Mexico for decades, controlling the presidency from
1929 to 2000, when it was defeated for the first time by PAN candidate Vicente Fox. Fox's successor, Felipe Calderon,
was also a PANista.
Now, after 12 years of the PAN holding the
presidency, the PRI has won it back.
The PAN ran for decades as
an insurgent party, and that's how it won in 2000. But now, after twelve years, "the thrill is gone."
Not only did the PAN lose, it lost big -- only winning in three states with just 25% of the national vote, with its
candidate finishing in third place (after AMLO).
Putting ideology temporarily
aside, it's useful to see how the candidates presented themselves. Elections are decided, not by the party faithful,
but by the undecided, the floating vote.
Seen from that perspective,
the PRI ran the most effective campaign. Whatever one thinks of Peña Nieto and his allegedly scandalous personal
history, the candidate simply exuded a more presidential demeanor than the others.
AMLO of course has his faithful followers, but he comes across as too radical for many voters.
Quadri is very professorial but doesn't exude much of a leadership aura.
Josefina of the PAN ran a poor campaign. Her slogan was "Josefina Diferente"
-- but she was never able to really prove how or why she was "diferente." She didn't give undecided
voters much to latch on to. As the campaign neared an end, her desperate ranting speaking style and her assertion that
she should win because she is a woman were not enough to win.
PAN has played an important role in recent Mexican history, but it needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out what
it stands for after all these years.
As for the PRI, its losses
in recent years have forced it to present a new image to the public, while preserving its nationwide network which has served
it very efficiently. The question now, is how will a new PRI president govern?
However, even though the PRI won the presidential election it will not have a majority in the newly elected Congress.
It wasn't emphasized as much, but an entirely new Mexican Congress was also elected on July 1st. Neither the PRI,
nor any party, has a majority in either of the two chambers of the Mexican Congress. That means that Mexico's new
president will have to negotiate with Congress in order to advance his agenda. And isn't that a good thing?
Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years. His website is located