Hemisphere Focus - Vol. 17, Issue 3: Party Politics in Mexico’s Midterm Elections
July 9, 2009
In the July 5 midterm elections in Mexico, the former ruling party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), had the greatest success across the board. All of the 500 seats in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the country’s bicameral legislature, were up for grabs, along with six governorships and municipal presidencies in the 11 states where citizens were electing mayors. The PRI captured around 37 percent of the overall vote, followed by incumbent President Felipe Calderón’s Partido de Acción Nacional (PAN), which secured 28 percent. The Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) came in a distant third with support from only 12 percent of the voting population. The nearly 2 million voters who cancelled their ballots in order to send a message of protest to Mexico’s political class put the null vote as the fourth place winner, after the three major parties. A cluster of smaller parties and political alliances such as the Partido del Trabajo (PT), the Partido Verde Ecológico de México (PVEM), the Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL), and Convergencia captured the remainder of votes cast.
Almost three years into the administration of President Felipe Calderón, the midterm elections are widely viewed as a referendum on Calderón’s achievements. Calderón has faced a confluence of difficult challenges since taking office in December 2006. These include confronting the domestic implications of the global financial crisis, managing the late April outbreak of H1N1 influenza, and waging a deadly struggle with drug-trafficking cartels. According to polls taken the week before the elections, the PRI was in the lead and was projected to win an estimated 34 percent the votes cast. President Calderón’s PAN was expected to attract around 29 percent of voters, and polls showed the PRD could expect to capture about 13 percent of the vote.