After state elections, Mexico maintains status quo – sort of
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.
Gabino Cue of the PAN-PRD coalition was elected governor of Oaxaca, part of a mixed outcome in state and local elections.