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posted 2009-05-04
Here we go... Mexican Elections Race
The political campaigns started on May 3, 2009 with the participation of 8 political parties. An electorate of 77´829,453 people will vote on July 5, 2009 to renovate the 500 seats of the Chamber of Deputies Cámara de Diputados.


Overview of the Mexican elections in 2009

February 23, 2009. 08:48

The Mexican voters between hope and uncertainty

Practically the whole year of 2009 is going to be hectic in political and electoral terms for the majority of Mexicans. The Low Chamber (Cámara de Diputados) of the federal congress is going to be renovated on July 5, 2009. This chamber is composed by a mixed system of 300 congressmen/women on behalf of each majority district spread along the country, and 200 more representatives through the formula of proportional representation distributed in five large national circumscriptions or regions.

In addition to this, six states will hold elections where governors will be renovated: the northern states of Nuevo León and Sonora; the western state of Colima; the central states of San Luis Potosí and Querétaro; and the southern state of Campeche. Most of these entities have substantial relevance not only in political terms but for the Mexican economy as well. Alongside the governors’ elections, these states will elect the representatives of their local congresses and the totality of their municipalities (cities and towns mayors). In a similar case are the central states of México, Guanajuato and Morelos, and the western state of Jalisco where the local congresses and municipalities will be renovated. Finally, México City will hold elections to renew its legislative assembly (local congress) and its 16 boroughs (delegaciones políticas).

To sum up, besides 500 federal congressmen/women, 6 governor, 606 city mayors, 11 local congresses, 16 boroughs, and México City’s assembly will be at stake on July 5th. Later on this year, on October 18th the southern state of Tabasco and the northern state of Coahuila will hold elections to renovate their local congress and municipalities.

Hence, taking into account that the states of México, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon, and México City are within the five most populated States of the Country (missing only the State of Veracruz), almost half of the Mexicans will be deciding among 8 national political parties and theirs candidates for local and nationwide offices, whereas the other half of the population will be choosing only members of the national lower chamber.

This striking scenario of political competition has brought important readjustments in the national political arena; political parties are getting ready to fight each one of the positions in dispute. Yet again, since 1997 where PRI lost the “absolute” majority in the lower chamber (50%+1 of the seats), the story seems to be the same; national surveys shows no clear tendency to any of the three main parties (PAN, PRD & PRI).

Nevertheless, it is important to highlight that PRI has shown an interesting come back in the latest local elections. After the disastrous PRI’s performance in the 2006 election, this political party has recovered positions; for instance, PRI won five of the six capital cities on dispute in 2008: Saltillo, Chilpancingo, Pachuca, Tepic, and Chetumal; the remaining one, La Paz, the capital city of the state of Baja California Sur, was won by PRD; but this same political party lost important cities such as Acapulco. Then, speaking exclusively about local elections, PRI caught 45% of the votes cast, followed by PRD, which showed some recovery even after its internal conflicts, and finally in a far third position the conservative PAN was positioned as a result of the outcome of some poor governmental results; specially in the fight against the drug cartels, the rise of the social violence, and the social discontent due to the economic situation.

As mentioned before and regardless of the results listed above, it is still difficult to assure that PRI will be a clear winner in 2009 or that PAN is in free fall; even speaking in regard of local elections where some parties are more rooted, it is not possible as yet to call for a clear winner, it is too soon to anticipate results.

At this point, it is important to mention that these elections represent an interesting and worthy trial-thinking-view about the next presidential election in 2012. The 2009 vote will be the first nationwide election after the controversial and chaotic election of 2006; therefore it is going to be crucial for all actors. The electoral authorities, the political parties, and the politicians desperately need to recover the credibility lost on a significant part of the Mexican voters. In addition to this, the 2009 election will be the first one where the new regulations for political campaigns approved in 2007 with the intention to fix the flaws of the 2006 election will be enforced. Among other changes, the campaigns are going to be substantially shorter, television advertisements will have no cost for the candidates and will be assigned fairly by the government to all the political parties, and no more derogatory ads will be allowed.

Finally, it is clear that many external factors such as the economic turmoil will affect the 2009 election as well as the drop of the remittances sent from abroad, the lowering on oil prices, and the increasing violence caused by the public insecurity. However, as mentioned before, since the three main political parties have similar chances to fight for the majority of the congress, and eventually in 2012 for the presidency, the race has already started; this fact can engender a pragmatic scenario where the main political parties will be addressing the nationwide problems. This last thought would seem more a wishful thinking than a reality, but what would politics be apart from hope and expectations.

NOTE: The eight national parties registered at the Mexican Federal Election Commission (IFE) to participate in the 2009 elections are: PAN, PRI, PRD, PT, PVEM, Convergencia, Nueva Alianza, and Partido Socialdemócrata.

Isaac Preciado
Published: February 23, 2009. 08:48 | Last updated: May 04, 2009. 18:21
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