We are days away from the start of election campaigns in what has been called the biggest election in Mexican history, due to the sheer number of positions in dispute.
Over 21,000 seats to completely renew the Chamber of Deputies at the national level, 15 governors, 30 local congresses and 1,900 city councils and municipal councils at the sub-national level.
Over the course of the two months of the campaign, the current political polarization, created and fueled by the rhetoric and behavior of government leaders and opposition parties, is expected to deepen and eventually shift. at the polls.
Since January 15, the General Council of the National Electoral Institute (INE) has approved the registration of two partial coalitions called “Juntos haremos História” (Together we will make history) and “Va por México” (for Mexico).
The first is the ruling coalition led by the Morena (National Regeneration Movement) party, the same formula that achieved an overwhelming majority in the 2018 federal election.
The second is formed by the three most important parties which have clashed during the last two decades of the transition to democracy: PAN, PRD and PRI. This still troubling coalition will seek to take the majority of the seats of Morena and her allies in the Chamber of Deputies.
However, in Mexico, politics at the subnational level often develop dynamics of electoral competition that are different from those at the national level.
The various combinations of coalitions for the 15 state governments involved are one example.
According to the Massive Caller surveys conducted on March 28, 12 states have bipartisan competition with coalitions, and in three states (Campeche, Nuevo León and San Luis Potosi) the competition is fragmented into three political forces. In the first two, with the competitive presence of Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizen Movement), and in the third of the PVEM and PT coalition.
According to the same poll, Morena and her allies are launching campaigns with the intention of voting by majority in 10 of the 15 states at stake; in 7 of them, with a wide margin of support.
In turn, the PAN has an advantage in Querétaro, the PAN-PRD coalition in Chihuahua, the PAN-PRD-PRI coalition shows a reduced advantage in Baja California Sur and San Luis Potosí, and finally the Movimiento Ciudadano, which has increased its support, leads by one point in an extremely fierce competition with the PRI-PRD and Morena-PT-PVEM and PANAL coalitions in Nuevo León.
Now, in the electoral arena, parties tend to be extremely pragmatic, and the coalition-building strategy aims to add as many voices as possible, especially in contexts of changing competition.
Undoubtedly, the 2018 election results consolidated Morena and her allies as the dominant official bloc, with a majority in both houses of the legislature and a strong presence in most states.
Political polarization in the run-up to elections
Hostile rhetoric and behavior towards “other” political alternatives that have been promoted by the leaders of the ruling bloc, such as opposition leaders and the media – traditional or social networks – generate a climate of polarization policy that does not promote democracy at all.
In a situation of democratic erosion, what is needed is the recognition of the other as a citizen in order to establish some type of negotiation or agreement that facilitates and strengthens the stability of the political system.
In addition to the political leaders already mentioned, new actors appear, or reappear, who through their speech amplify the antagonisms.
This week, businessman Ricardo Salinas Pliego said that “INE must die or disappear”. It is after a series of agreements of the electoral administration body which affected, at least temporarily, while the authority in charge of electoral justice is pronouncing, the candidatures of certain parties.
This decision particularly affected two candidates for the government of Morena and his allies, who retain the advantage in the voting intentions for Michoacán and Guerrero, as well as changes in the designation of the seats of representation.
Without a doubt, the agreements of the General Council of INE have provoked embarrassment and disturbing reactions. And while the decision is in accordance with the law, it is not entirely timely, as it disrupts the formal and informal agreements and negotiations the parties have made to form coalitions.
While the attacks on the electoral authority are concerning – such as the severe budget cuts to fulfill its functions – it should also be noted that for some time the INE governing body has been promoting a confrontational discourse with the executive, falling into the game that the president dominates perfectly and does not correspond to the INE, nor does it favor it.
If it continues on this path, the consequences of polarization in the electoral arena may raise doubts about the representativeness and legitimacy of the winners, as well as the emergence of an unjust opposition that generates difficulties in reaching consensus. necessary to govern.
Finally, peaceful and civilized social coexistence could be modified in the face of simplifying conceptions that divide society into “good” and “bad”.
Translation by Maria Isabel Santos Lima