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Column 071612 Wall

Monday, July 16, 2012

More than the Presidency was at stake in Mexico's Elections

By Allan Wall

Mexico held its presidential election on July 1st, 2012.  The winner was Enrique Peña Nieto, although there is still some controversy and one of the candidates, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, still refuses to concede.  It's unlikely, however, that the Mexican electoral tribunal is going to invalidate the election.  Meanwhile, Peña Nieto is already acting like the president-elect.

In any case, here are the official results:

  • 1. The winner, with 38.21% of the vote, was 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, was the runner-up with 31.59% of the vote. AMLO, however, has still not conceded the election.
  • 3. Josefina Vazquez Mota of PAN (Partido Acción Nacional) came in third with 25.41% of the vote.
  • 4. Gabriel Quadri de la Torre of PANAL (Partido de la Nueva Alianza) finished a distant fourth with a whopping 2.29% of the vote.

The lion's share of media attention was accorded to the presidential election.  But it's important to remember that the election was not only for president.  Every six years the entire Mexican Congress is replaced.  As Mexican law forbids immediate reelection of senators and representatives, that means the entire Congress is replaced every six years.  (Mid-term elections are scheduled for 2015, in which the entire Cámara de Diputados -- equivalent to U.S. House of Representatives -- will again be replaced.)

It's important to look at the configuration of the new Mexican Congress, because it gives us an idea of the correlation of forces in that legislative body.

As in the U.S. and many other countries, Mexico's Congress has two chambers.  The upper chamber is the Cámara de Senadores, equivalent to the U.S. Senate.  The lower chamber is the Cámara de Diputados, equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Mexican Senate has 128 senators.  According to the new lineup resulting from the July 1st election, the party breakdown will look like this:

PRI                52 senators
PVEM             9 senators
PAN              38 senators
PRD              22 senators
PT                    4 senators
Mv. Ciud.       2 senators
PANAL            1 senator

Notice that no party has a majority in the Senate.  Even if the PRI and its election ally, the PVEM, vote as a bloc that would only add up to 61 votes, which would still not be a majority.

What about the Cámara de Diputados?  That's the Mexican equivalent of the U.S. House of Representatives.  It has 500 diputados.  Here's the breakdown in that chamber:

PRI                 207 diputados
PVEM              33 diputados
PAN                114 diputados
PRD                101 diputados
PT                      19 diputados
Mv. Ciud.        16 diputados
PANAL            10 diputados

Notice that here, too, there is no majority.  Even if the PRI and the Green Party (PVEM) vote as a bloc, that would only add up to 240 votes, 11 votes shy of a majority.  The PAN has 114 diputados, but if the PRD can hold its alliance with the PT and MC together, it could have 136 diputados voting as a bloc.  

The PANAL, with its ten votes, is in a good position; if it voted with the PRI/PVEM it could bring that bloc's strength up to 250, which is 50% of the chamber.  Since the PANAL is controlled by education union leader Elba Esther Gordillo, we can expect her to behave very shrewdly. 

In addition to the presidential and congressional races, there were elections for governors in six Mexican states:

  • 1. Jalisco -- The winner was Jorge Aristoteles Sandoval Diaz, of the PRI/PVEM. However, Sandoval has to wait eight months to take office, on March 1st, 2013!
  • 2. Guanajuato -- The winner was Miguel Marquez Marquez of the PAN/PANAL. (Although the PAN and PANAL ran against each other in the presidential race, they had an alliance in the state of Guanajuato.) Marquez Marquez is slated to take office on September 26th.
  • 3. Morelos -- Graco Luis Ramirez Garrido Abreu of the PRD was the winner, and is scheduled to take office on October 1st.
  • 4. Tabasco -- The governor-elect is Arturo Nuñez Jimenez of the PRD, set to take office on January 1st, 2013.
  • 5. Yucatan -- Rolando Zapata Bello of the PRI/PVEM won that election, and is scheduled to become governor on October 1st.
  • 6. Chiapas -- Manuel Velasco Coello is the governor-elect, scheduled to take office on December 8th.

Note: Allan Wall is scheduled to discuss the Mexican elections on Chuck Wilder's Talkback show, on July 18th, at 4:30 pm Eastern Time. You can listen live here.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info/.


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