Af­ter state elec­tions, Mex­ico main­tains sta­tus quo – sort of

Austin American-Statesman - - TUESDAYBRIEFING - By Ken Ellingwood

MEX­ICO CITY — Po­lit­i­cal par­ties across the spec­trum looked for ways to claim brag­ging rights Mon­day af­ter gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tions in a dozen states yielded sur­prises but no clear over­all vic­tor.

With re­sults still be­ing tal­lied, the out­come so far of­fered some­thing of a boost to Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderón, whose con­ser­va­tive party avoided an em­bar­rass­ing sweep by join­ing with left­ist par­ties in sev­eral key states.

Those oil-and-wa­ter al­liances stunned the surg­ing In­sti­tu­tional Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Party, or PRI, in two states it has long ruled: Oax­aca and Pue­bla. An­other left-right coali­tion was poised for vic­tory in Si­naloa, where PRI can­di­date Je­sus Viz­carra led pre-elec­tion polls in spite of al­le­ga­tions of links to drug traf­fick­ers.

But the PRI, which ruled Mex­ico un­til it lost the pres­i­dency in 2000, could also claim signs of a con­tin­ued come­back. Ac­cord­ing to nearly com­plete re­sults, the PRI kept gov­ern­er­ships in six states and cap­tured three new ones, in­clud­ing two that were held by Calderón’s Na­tional Ac­tion Party, or PAN.

If those re­sults hold, the PRI would end up with nine of the 12 gov­er­nor­ships up for grabs Sun­day — the same num­ber it had go­ing in.

In ad­di­tion, a PRI can­di­date in Juárez over­came ac­cu­sa­tions of drug ties to win the mayor’s seat.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts said Sun­day’s re­sults re­flected vary­ing lo­cal con­di­tions and per­son- al­i­ties and prob­a­bly car­ried no over­ar­ch­ing mes­sage.

Calderón may be buoyed by tak­ing three states from the PRI, but he pre­sides over a wob­bly econ­omy and a con­tro­ver­sial drug war that has left 23,000 peo­ple dead since 2006. The right­ist PAN lost ev­ery statewide con­test in which it ran alone.

“It leaves ev­ery­body in pretty much the same place,” said Daniel Lund, a Mex­ico Ci­ty­based poll­ster and an­a­lyst. “The PAN is a weak govern­ment. They found a way not to be com­pletely hu­mil­i­ated in this elec­tion.”

PAN of­fi­cials touted the suc­cess of al­liances with the left­ist Demo­cratic Revo­lu­tion Party, or PRD, in beat­ing the PRI in states where it was thought to have a lock, such as Oax­aca and Pue­bla.

“Ev­ery­one was say­ing it was nearly im­pos­si­ble to have a change of party, but now a new his­tory has be­gun,” said Jose­fina Vasquez Mota, who leads the PAN del­e­ga­tion in Congress. “The peo­ple expressed them­selves, and they de­manded change.” But it’s not that sim­ple. In Pue­bla and Si­naloa, the PAN-PRD coali­tion can­di­dates had made their names as mem­bers of the PRI but had left the party af­ter fail­ing to win the nod for gover­nor this year. In Oax­aca, the coali­tion can­di­date, Gabino Cue, split from the PRI years ear­lier and ran un­suc­cess­fully as an op­po­si­tion can­di­date in 2004. Cur­rent gov­er­nors in all three of those states were widely re­garded as pre­sid­ing over ad­min­is­tra­tions that were cor­rupt, dic­ta­to­rial or in­ef­fec­tive.

Luis Al­berto Her­nan­dez AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Gabino Cue of the PAN-PRD coali­tion was elected gover­nor of Oax­aca, part of a mixed out­come in state and lo­cal elec­tions.

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