Election Preview: Mexico 2009
Mexico is holding mid-term elections today for half of the Mexican Congress – the Chamber of Deputies are up for re-election. In addition, there are a number of gubernatorial and state/local elections also being held. These are the first nationwide elections since the election of President Felipe Calderón in the disputed 2006 election.
Mexico is ruled since 2000 by the conservative National Action Party (PAN), a social conservative Christian democratic-type party. It’s generally free market, but it doesn’t seem to place as much emphasis on economic liberalism compared to other conservative parties in the world.
PAN was founded in 1939 and became one of the major opposition parties to the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI), Mexico’s ruling party and institution between 1929 and 2000. The PRI, despite the appearance (it’s a member of Socialist International), is not much of a left-wing party. It’s a collection of bureaucrats, technicians, power-hungry officials and family dynasties whose ideologies range from left-wing nationalist (Lázaro Cárdenas) to rightist NAFTA-IMF liberals (Carlos Salinas). Unlike other one-party states, Mexico between 1929 and 2000 was not a show party for an autocrat (like ARENA was for the military in Brazil) but rather a very structured official institution. The PRI made sure that no one person became too powerful and became the institution himself. For that reason, Mexican Presidents, despite having power similar to Obama’s power in the US, are elected for 6 years but they cannot run for re-election. Under the PRI system, the incumbent President chose his successor at the end. The PRI regime laid its foundations on a carefully-crafted and carefully-worked network of peasants, workers and “populars” (middle class).
No left-wing opposition to the PRI was able to impose itself as viable alternative to the PRI’s omnipotence until 1988. In 1988, the labour unions, formerly a rather solid part of the PRI coalition, showed its displeasure with the choice of free-marketer Carlos Salinas as the PRI’s candidate. The party’s left, led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the son of President Lázaro Cárdenas (who governed on the left), formed the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) with the support of the PRI’s left and smaller perennial left-wing groups such as the Mexican Communist Party (PCM). Unlike the PRI, the PRD can be classified as left-wing. It’s economically left-wing and quite liberal socially. The PRD declined after winning 31% in 1988 to around 15-20% of the vote. Until 2006, that is. In 2006, the PRI’s presidential candidate, Roberto Madrazo, was opposed by a large faction in the party which turned to the PRD candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. As you all know, the PAN candidate, Felipe Calderón, won 35.89% of the vote against 35.31% for López Obrador.
López Obrador never accepted the result and installed a parallel government. He built a Broad Progressive Front (FAP) with two smaller left-wing party, the Labour Party (PT) and Convergencia. Both the PT and Convergencia have grown closer to López Obrador. However, the PRD descended into open war between López Obrador’s United Left faction (the PRI’s old left) and the New Left faction (those who came from smaller left-wing non-PRI parties) opposed to him. The New Left’s candidate won the party’s chaotic leadership election, though the Lópezobradoristas control the PRD’s wing in Mexico City (a PRD stronghold).
For example, in the capital city’s borough of Iztapalapa, the United Left candidate narrowly defeated the New Left candidate, though the electoral commish forced the PRD to name the New Leftist as candidate. López Obrador was rabid and endorsed the PT candidate. Not out of love for the candidate or the PT, he ordered the candidate to resign if elected so the Mayor of Mexico City (loyal, kind of, to the United Left) could appoint to United Left’s primary candidate. The official PRD leadership is now openly rabid too. They’ve made it heard that party members who support candidates of other parties are supposed to be expelled from the PRD. López is ready to go, with his supporters, if forced. Thereby destroying the party. The electoral situation in Iztapalapa is extremely confusing: it was too late to reprint ballot, so the United Left’s candidate will be on the ballot, but votes for her will go to the New Left PRD “official candidate”. Despite having her name on the ballot, if you want the United Left candidate, you should vote for the PT candidate who will resign in the hope that the Mayor will appoint the United Left candidate.
Other parties include the nominally liberal New Alliance Party (PANAL), which is owned by the powerful teacher’s union and/or a former ally of Roberto Madrazo within the PRI; the Ecologist Greens (PVEM), a corrupt very right-wing green conservative party; and the Social Democratic Party (PSD), a socially liberal and economically centrist party.
Now to the elections. The Chamber of Deputies has 500 members, 300 of which are elected in single-member electoral constituencies and the remaining 200 in a nationwide constituency using 2% proportional representation.
Here are the 2006 results, data from the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE)
Chamber of Deputies (FPTP)
PAN 33.39% winning 137 seats
PRD+PT+Convergencia 28.99% winning 98 seats (PRD 90, Convergencia 5, PT 3)
PRI+PVEM 28.21% winning 65 seats (63 PRI, 2 Green)
Chamber of Deputies (PR)
PAN 33.41% winning 69 seats
PRD+PT+Convergencia 28.99% winning 60 seats (PRD 41, Convergencia 11, PT 13)
PRI+PVEM 28.18% winning 58 seats (41 PRI, 17 Green)
PANAL 4.55% winning 9 seats
PSD 2.05% winning 4 seats
Chamber of Deputies (Overall)
Gubernatorial and state legislative elections are being held in Campeche (PRI incumbent), Colima (PRI), Nuevo León (PRI), Querétaro (PAN), San Luis Potosí (PAN), and Sonora (PRI). Local elections in the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, México and Morelos. Also notable are the borough elections in the Federal District, and the confusing race in the borough of Iztapalapa between the PRD and PT (PRD).