July 10, 2012
On July 1st, presidential elections were held in Mexico. There were four candidates :
Enrique Pena 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 Pena 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 citizen.)
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 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:
Enrique Pena 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 a majority.
Enrique Pena Nieto is thus the winner, and Mexico´s president election, 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 in 2006.
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 again.
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 only 25% of the national vote, with its candidate e finishing up in third place, after AMLO.
Putting ideology temporarily, 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 Pena Nieto and his 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 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.
The 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.
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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 does 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?
© 2012 Allan Wall - All Rights Reserved
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Allan Wall recently returned to the U.S. after residing many years in Mexico.