Mexico: Ruling PRI wins comfortable majority in mid-term elections, Morena fractures the left
June 7, 2015
The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its allies—the Green Party (PVEM) and New Alliance (Panal)—retained a comfortable majority in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of Congress) as a result of the 7 June mid-term elections. Additionally, independent candidates scored key victories at a both the federal and gubernatorial level. With 99% of the votes counted, the result showed that PRI garnered 29.2% of the votes. The center-right National Action Party (PAN) came in second with 21.0%, while the center-left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) was the big loser among the three largest parties. PRD obtained 10.9% of the votes, which is far short of the 16.5% it had received in the 2012 federal election. PRD lost support in this election to the new radical-left Morena party (National Regeneration Movement)—founded by former presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador—which won 8.4% of the votes, creating a fracture in the left.
Looking at the gubernatorial elections, the PRI likely won five states (pending result from Colima and San Luis Potosi, where PRI is leading), followed the PAN with two states and PRD with one. Although PRI is the clear winner, the main surprise in the gubernatorial elections was the victory of an independent candidate in the state of Nuevo León. Jaime Rodríguez, also known as El Bronco, won with a ground-breaking victory. This was the first election in which independent candidates have been able to run for office, owing to the 2013 electoral reform. Nuevo León is Mexico's most economically powerful state outside Mexico City; it is also a state that has experienced a surge in violence in recent years. Nuevo León’s election result signifies a strong blow to the traditional partisan structure in Mexico and reflects citizens’ high level of dissatisfaction with mainstream parties.
In Mexico City, the radical-left Morena party is now the main political force as it obtained the majority of seats in the local legislative assembly and won five of Mexico City's sixteen boroughs (delegaciones). PRD, which traditionally had a strong presence in Mexico City, suffered a significant defeat. It is now the second largest party in the local legislative assembly and won only six boroughs, which is less than half its previous tally of thirteen. PRD's defeat in Mexico’s capital came on top of its loss at the federal level, which came as quite a shock to the party's leaders. Although the city remains ruled by a PRD mayor, the loss of the main left-wing bastion to Morena is a huge loss for the PRD. Going forward, Morena's presence in Mexico City could be cemented if it wins the 2018 mayoral race.
Results for the ruling PRI party were positive and the popularity of the far-left Morena party surged. Now the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto will have to decide whether to fully concentrate on the implementation of the structural reforms or embark on new constitutional changes ahead of the 2018 general elections. Gabriel Lozano, Chief Mexico Economist at J.P. Morgan comments:
We see the incumbent party primarily focused in the implementation of the already approved structural reforms rather than pushing for new constitutional changes that could endanger its position ahead of the presidential elections of 2018 given that constitutional changes require the support of two-thirds of congress.
While it seems that the clear choice for President Peña Nieto is to continue implementing the structural reforms, what decision will be taken remains to be seen.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist