The Mexicans went to the polls on Sunday (6). They elected 500 deputies, 15 governors (out of 32) and nearly 2,000 municipal presidents, as well as local authorities. The consultation took place in the middle of the legislature and became a referendum on the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), just like his predecessors.
The preliminary results are varied, which, as is generally the case, allows each political actor to highlight the data that favors it. For these elections, the main parties formed two major alliances.
The government coalition was formed by Morena (Movement for National Regeneration), founded by AMLO, environmentalist Partido Verde and Partido do Trabalho. Among them, they had the absolute majority in Congress.
An unprecedented phenomenon has occurred in the opposition. After the hurricane of AMLO victory three years ago, which swept through the traditional parties, they began a process of convergence which matured in these elections. Thus, the former PRI, the right PAN and the social democrat PRD have allied themselves. The aim was to prevent the government from reaching a qualified majority and from being able to reform the constitution.
The government started three years ago with a program of changes, called the Fourth Transformation, 4Q, which aims to fight corruption, meet social demands and bring about a renewal of politics. Since then, Mexican society has become increasingly polarized. Virulence characterizes the debate and “commentocracy” (the world of commentators) dominates much of the media, especially in the capital.
The government is no exception. Since its inception, AMLO has organized early morning press conferences, las mañaneras, which it attends to deliver its message. Few are those who ignore that the president communicates with a good part of the population and also sets the agenda.
The poles of the debate range from the denunciation of the opposition to a new authoritarianism, to the condemnation of corrupt camaraderie capitalism, the cute capitalism, of which the president accuses his opponents.
Suppose that each election has several outcomes: digital, political and communicational. Numerically, Morena and her allies lost the vast majority they had in Congress, but retained half plus one, so they could pass laws and budgets, but not enough to pass constitutional reforms.
The opposition, in turn, succeeded in blocking future constitutional reforms and prevented the ruling party from obtaining a qualified majority, but it remains in the minority in Congress and in the country.
Faced with this situation, each side celebrates what suits each. This in the Chamber of Deputies. Because in the governors’ elections, Morena took a beating and won 11 of 15 governorships, the PAN won only two and the PRI lost everything it had.
The numbers above are the numbers. Politically, the opposition alliance has enabled him to regain some of the parliamentary seats lost three years ago. The largest share goes to the right PAN, which elects more than half of the opposition deputies. The PRI came in second and the PRD almost lost their record due to the very low vote they got.
In short, the alliance has served the opposition well, but some more than others. All in all, the electoral alliance was convincing and the three parties proclaimed their desire to maintain it in Congress. They will probably design it for the presidential elections. In other words, we will have a united opposition, probably hegemonized by the right.
The media result is what is left on the retina. As happened at that Ibero-American summit that was held years ago, where an irrelevant document was discussed that led to the unforgettable cry of the King of Spain to Hugo Chávez: “Why no te callas?”.
In the last elections, few worried about the results in the provinces (with the exception of its inhabitants). All eyes were on the capital, where the opposition seized half of the municipalities. The capital was the stronghold of the left and a stronghold of AMLO.
Interestingly, on this occasion it was practically divided, between the west (home of the middle class and wealthy sectors) and the east (where “the race” lives, as the Mexicans say). In the west, the opposition alliance won and in the east the Morena. The probable hypothesis is that part of the middle strata migrated towards the opposition.
The elections in Mexico City also had side effects. Potential AMLO successors were beginning to emerge. The most notorious: Minister Ebrard, Foreign Affairs, and the head of government of the capital, Claudia Sheilbaum. The electoral setback of the capital compromises the latter’s chances.
The explanation lies in the difficulties caused by the pandemic and the accident on metro line 12 which left several dead and distrust of the authorities. The capital is home to most of the media, foreign correspondents and the large and sophisticated intelligentsia.
What’s to come?
The second part of the six-year term comes with a government that maintains many divisions but now has a base of governors. It has fewer deputies, but more territorial control.
AMLO has lost the overwhelming momentum of his early days, but retains enough strength to hold the reins of power. Morena will therefore have to complete part of her ambitious proposal and start preparing for the succession of her charismatic leader.
The opposition, in turn, regroups. But in addition to offering himself as a bastion, he should start proposing a project for a country that rivals the 4Q in the imagination of Mexicans. Therefore, more polarization is seen on the horizon.
Just over half of eligible citizens voted in the elections. Because? A rigorous analysis of the vote, who voted, where and why, remains to be done. For now, it should be noted that there have been almost no complaints of fraud, so common in recent Mexico, when the idea prevailed that “an election is never called whose outcome is not known “.
Life goes on. AMLO received Kamala Harris in Guatemala and greeted her as “president”. Relations with the United States are Mexico’s international priority, and migration, trade and the fight against drug trafficking are on the agenda. Leftist Morena was able to develop a realistic deal with the United States, which is no small feat in Latin America.
The mid-term elections are over and, as political scientist René Delgado points out, it is time for the main political actors to show that they know not only how to add – calculate the number of elected representatives – but also to read, that is – that is, interpret what Mexican society is telling them.
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