Editorials | Opinions | June 2006
|Mexican Races Coming Down to the Wire|
Allan Wall - Mexidata.info
The Mexican presidential election is down to its last week. Itís a tight one, but it looks more and more like Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) of the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution) will be the winner.
|Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, presidential candidate of Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), arrives a rally in Cuernavaca in Mexico's state of Morelos June 25, 2006. (Reuters/Daniel Aguilar)|
Can Felipe Calderon of the PAN (National Action Party) pull it off and win the election? Itís not impossible, but itís looking tougher.
In fact, the PAN candidate seems to be getting desperate. As of late, some of Calderonís own campaigning has begun to resemble that of AMLO.
All along, AMLO has promised to lower gas, fuel and electricity costs. Recently, Calderon came out for cutting the cost of electricity for the poor.
Iíve heard Calderon speak live twice (and AMLO once).
The two times I heard Calderon he made some of the same points. And yet, the second time he was sounding more AMLOish.
The last day election polls could legally be released was June 23rd, and they all showed AMLO in the lead.
But itís not over yet.
For one thing, thereís the PRI factor. Roberto Madrazo, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) candidate, is promising a rain of votes on July 2nd. Nevertheless, when Election Day arrives many of those who previously planned to vote for the PRI candidate may opt to vote for AMLO or Calderon. They might even split their tickets by voting for PRI congressional candidates, and for AMLO or Calderon for president.
But for which candidate? These voters could decide the election.
Polling also indicates the strong regional aspects of the race. Calderon is more favored in the north and west, and AMLO in the south and east.
Also, a whopping 53 percent of the electorate dwells in just seven states: Veracruz, Puebla, Nuevo Leon, the State of Mexico, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Michoacan, along with the Federal District.
A rather under-reported aspect of this election is the simultaneous congressional contests. The composition of the new Congress will be very important, but this has been overshadowed by the drama of the presidential race.
Itís understandable that a presidential race attracts more attention than a congressional election. For one thing, itís just a lot easier for the media to focus on the national race for Los Pinos (the Mexican equivalent to The White House) than on the many state and local races for Congress.
But itís a very important issue.
In the old days, Mexicoís bicameral Congress was just a rubberstamp for the executive. Since 1997 however, Congress has not been controlled by any one party. And itís highly unlikely in this election, regardless of whether AMLO or Calderon wins, that a single party will win a majority in Congress.
That means regardless of who wins, the new president will have to negotiate with Congress to pass legislation.
The three principal parties, the PAN, PRI and PRD, may each control approximately the same proportions in Congress. The way they work together Ė or fail to work together Ė could greatly effect the accomplishments, or lack thereof, of the next president.
If AMLO wins, will the PRI and the PAN work together to block his legislation? Or will the PRI work with the president? Or will it depend on the particular issues involved? Probably.
A president with effective personal and political skills is necessary to successfully work with a divided Congress. Cooperative opposition congressional participants are needed also!
Mexico has accomplished much in the past few decades. It has made a successful transition from a one-party authoritarian state to a free and representative form of government. And this was done without a civil war or revolution.
The year 2000 saw a successful Mexican election and transfer of power. (It went smoother than our 2000 election in fact.)
I expect the 2006 election to also go smoothly. Certainly its results wonít please everybody Ė thatís impossible in a free society. But after the dust has settled and the winners are announced, political leaders and parties can take stock of the situation, adjust to the new realities, and begin to make plans for the incoming administration.
Allan Wall is an American citizen who has been teaching English in Mexico since 1991, and writing articles about various aspects of Mexico and Mexican society for the past decade. Some of these articles are about Mexico's political scene, history and culture, tourism, and Mexican emigration as viewed from south of the border, which you can read on his website at AllanWall.net.
Click HERE for more articles by Allan Wall.