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Column 071513 Wall

Monday, July 15, 2013

Marred by some Foul Play, Mexico's 2013 Elections are Over

By Allan Wall

On July 7th, 2013, elections were held in 15 Mexican states for local legislatures, municipal (county) governments, and in one state for governor.  The elections went off as planned, however they were marred by violence in a number of locations, beginning in February and lasting until July 7th.

There were attacks on candidates and campaign workers in various states.

At least six candidates were slain.  Another candidate was attacked and injured, and though she herself survived, her husband and an assistant were killed, making it clear that the goal was to kill the candidate.

Besides attacks on candidates themselves, political party officials and campaign officials were attacked.  Family members of both party officials and campaign officials were also targets and were sometimes murdered.

Such attacks were perpetrated against all the major parties.

These attacks were not limited to one geographical region, taking place in such distantly-located states as Chihuahua in the north, Oaxaca in the south, and Veracruz on the Gulf Coast.

One feature most of the slayings did have in common was that they were carried out in small towns in Mexico.

Such violence, as would be expected, had an effect on the elections by provoking some candidates to drop out.

Nevertheless, the regularly scheduled elections went on.

On election day, in two locations there were notable incidents.  In Mexicali, a man carrying a Molotov cocktail was detained as he approached a polling station.  In Puebla there was a ballot box stolen.

But the elections went on.  Let’s look at what officials were being elected.

Each of Mexico’s 31 states has a unicameral legislature, the representatives in these legislatures are called diputados in Spanish.  In this summer’s elections, diputados were elected in 12 states, plus one other state had a special election for one such diputado.

Mexico’s states are divided into municipios.  In American terms, a Mexican municipio would be something of a cross between a municipality and a county in the United States.  The mayor of a municipio is known as an alcalde or presidente municipal, and he or she and the muncipio council together comprise the government known as the ayuntamiento.  About 1,350 municipios were up for grabs on July 7th.

In only one state, Baja California, a governorship was up for grabs.

The elections in the 15 states displayed a dizzying array of political coalitions of national and state parties, which could differ from state to state and even within a state.

Since the names and acronyms of Mexican political parties can be confusing, a list is provided at the end of this article.

Let’s take a look at the results, starting on the far eastern edge of the country and working our way north and west:

1.      QUINTANA ROO – This is Mexico’s easternmost state, home of the famous Riviera Maya tourist area.  In Quintana Roo, there were 25 diputado positions up for election. The PRI won a quarter of them outright, while nearly another quarter were won by the PRI-PVEM-Panal coalition.  As for the ten ayuntamientos, seven were won by the PRI outright and three by the PRI-PVEM-Panal coalition.

2.     OAXACA – In this state, located on Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast, 42 diputados are being elected, and 570 ayuntamientos.  Oaxaca is a very mountainous state and the state has more municipios than any other in Mexico.  In all of Mexico there are 2,378 municipios, and Oaxaca has 570, which is about a quarter of the total in the whole country.

Additionally, out of the total of 570 municipios in Oaxaca, 153 are chosen in the regular way, with ballots and political parties, with the  remaining 417 chosen using indigenous customs, in customary town meetings.

Of the 153 Oaxaca ayuntamientos chosen in the regular electoral way, 63 went to the PAN-PRD-PT alliance while 56 went to the PRI-PVEM alliance, with the other 40% still undefined.  As for the 42 diputado slots, 37.4% were won by the PAN-PRD-PT alliance while 35.6% were taken by the PRI-PVEM alliance.

3.     PUEBLA – In the state of Puebla, which is northwest of Oaxaca, the PAN/PRD/Panal coalition won 95 ayuntamientos while the PRI/PVEM coalition won 86.  As for the state’s legislature, the PAN/PRD/Panal coalition won 40.5% of the diputado positions while the PRI/PVEM won 36%.

4.     TLAXCALA – This small state is nestled between Puebla and Hidalgo.  In Tlaxcala, the PRI and the PAN each won 16 ayuntamientos, with the PRD winning ten and the PT five. In the legislature, the results were 21.94% PRI, 18.47% PAN and 16.80% PRD.

5.     HIDALGO lies northeast of the state of Mexico.  That state’s voters only voted for diputados, and the PRI got 43.4%, Panal came in second with 19.0%, the PRD with 12.3%, and the PAN came in fourth with 10.6%.

6.     VERACRUZ is a long state sprawled along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.  In that state, 96 ayuntamientos went to the PRI/PVEM/Panal coalition, while 44 went for the PAN, 29 for the PRD.  Among the diputados, the PRI won 37% and the PAN won 26.4%.

7.     TAMAULIPAS is Mexico’s northeasternmost state, along the Gulf of Mexico.  In that state, the PRI won 35 ayuntamientos and the PAN picked up eight.  In the legislature there was more equilibrium – the PAN had 34.5% and the PRI 34.1%.

8.     AGUASCALIENTES is, geographically speaking, at the center of Mexico.  In that state, the PAN/PRD coalition won three ayuntamientos, the PRI/PVEM won three, Panal won three, and the PT won two.  Among diputados, the PRI/PVEM coalition won 36.42%, while the PAN/PRD coalition won 33.84%.

9.     ZACATECAS is north of Aguascalientes.  Zacatecas elected 36 PRI ayuntamientos while the PAN/PRD coalition won 15.  In the legislature, the PRI won 38.5%, the PT 17.1%, the PRD 11.8%, and the PAN won 9.8%.

10.  COAHUILA is north of Zacatecas and borders Texas, U.S.A., on its  northern border.  Voters in Coahuila elected 38 ayuntamientos.  The PRI won 29 of the municipios and the PAN won nine.

11.   DURANGO is located between Sinaloa and Zacatecas.  In Durango, the PRI/PVEM/Panal/PD coalition swept the ayuntamientos, winning 32 municipios, leaving only seven for other parties. In the Durango legislature, the PRI won 34.2% with the PAN winning 26.5%.

12.  SINALOA is on the coast, west of Durango.  In Sinaloa, the PRI/PVEM/Panal coalition won 14 mayorships, leaving only three for the PAN/PRD/PT coalition and one for the PRI-headed four party PRI/PVEM/Panal/PAS coalition.  Among the diputados, the PRI/PVEM/Panal coalition won 45.2% while the PAN/PRD/PT coalition won 33%.

13.  CHIHUAHUA is Mexico’s biggest state and borders Texas and Arizona on its north.  In Chihuahua, the PRI (in coalitions) won 50 mayorships with the PAN picking up 15 on its own and one other in coalition with the PT, with the PT itself picking up another municipio.  Among diputados, the breakdown was 36.7% for the PAN, 17.5% for the PRI/PVEM/Panal coalition, 15% for the PRI/PT coalition, and 9.1% for the PRI.


14.  SONORA is a northwest Mexican state bordering Arizona in the U.S.  The Sonora election was a special case, to elect only one state diputado for District XVII (central Ciudad Obregon).  The state’s regular legislative election was in 2012, but the winner of that election (of the PRI party) was assassinated two days before taking office, so this election was only to elect a representative to that seat.  The PRI ran the slain man’s widow and she won this election.


(The 2012 winning candidate was elected along with a substitute (suplente), who was to take the place of the winner in such a case as this.  However, the reason the suplente didn’t take the winner’s place is that, apparently, the suplente was behind the assassination.)


15.  BAJA CALIFORNIA is Mexico’s northwest state, the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula.  This state has five municipios.  The PRI/PVEM/PT coalition won in three of them and the PAN/PRD/Panal coalition won in the other two.  Among diputados, the PAN/PRD/Panal coalition won 44.6%, with the PRI/PVEM/PT coalition picking up 44%.


Too, Baja California was the scene of 2013’s only Mexican gubernatorial election, pitting Francisco Vega de Lamadrid of the PAN coalition (including the PRD, the Nueva Alianza party, and the Partido Estatal de Baja California) against Fernando Castro Trenti of the PRI coalition (including the Green Party, the Labor Party and the Social Encounter Party).  The other candidate was Felipe Ruanova Zarate of the Movimiento Ciudadano.


The official result of that race was announced on July 13th, and Francisco Vega was the winner.


List of political parties mentioned in article:


PRI        Partido Revolucionario Institucional

PAN       Partido Acción Nacional

PRD       Partido de la Revolución Democrática

PT          Partido del Trabajo

PVEM    Partido Verde Ecologista de México

Panal     Partido Nueva Alianza

PD          Partido Duranguense

PAS        Partido Sinaloense

PES        Encuentro Social

PEBC     Partido Estatal de Baja California



Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at

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