Vicente Fox of Center-Right Partido Accion Nacional (P.a.N.) Wins Presidential Election

Article excerpt

Mexican voters, citing a strong desire for change, elected opposition candidate Vicente Fox Quesada of the center-right Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) as Mexico's next president. The July 2 election marked the end of the 71-year tenure for the governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), which has held the Mexican presidency since 1929.

Fox, who will take office Dec. 1, also represented the Partido Verde Ecologista Mexicano (PVEM) in a coalition called Alianza por el Cambio.

Unofficial statistics from the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE) indicate that the PAN-PVEM candidate received almost 43% of the vote, compared with about 36% for Francisco Labastida of the PRI, and 16.5% for Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD).

Cardenas was also representing four small leftist parties, the Partido del Trabajo (PT), the Partido Alianza Social (PAS), Convergencia Democratica (CD), and the Partido de la Sociedad Nacionalista (PSN). The leftist coalition was called Alianza por Mexico.

The remainder of the vote was divided among Gilberto Rincon Gallardo of the Partido de la Democracia Social (PDS), Manuel Camacho Solis of the Partido del Centro Democratico (PCD), and Porfirio Munoz Ledo of the Partido Autentico de la Revolucion Mexicana (PARM). Munoz Ledo received some votes even though he withdrew from the race before the election to support Fox's campaign.

Fox wins undecided voters

Fox's margin of victory was greater than expected because he was able to sway undecided voters. In many public-opinion polls taken a week before the election, Fox and Labastida were in a statistical dead heat. But those polls had not taken into account the undecided vote, which at that time represented 20% of registered voters.

Fox also benefitted from a relatively strong voter turnout in almost all regions of the country. An estimated 65% of Mexico's 59 million registered voters participated in the election. This translates to about 38.35 million voters. The percentage of participation was lower than in the 1994 election, when 77% of registered voters cast a ballot. But only 45.7 million Mexicans were registered to vote in 1994, meaning 35.18 million votes were cast in that election. In addition, reforms enacted by the IFE during the past six years included creating a more accurate voter list to eliminate duplications. This means the 1994 voter-registration numbers may have been somewhat inflated.

The IFE also implemented several measures to facilitate voting and increase confidence in the vote tabulation on election day (see SourceMex, 2000-06-28). As a result, this year's elections were generally the most open and orderly in recent years, with only a handful of complaints reported to the IFE.

"Abstentionism was soundly defeated," said an editorial by the daily newspaper El Universal. "This reflected the people's confidence in our institutions to promote a peaceful democratic transition."

Many voters who responded to exit polls said they cast their ballots for Fox because of his promise to end the institutional corruption that had become so common with successive PRI administrations.

"We must reflect on the mandate that Vicente Fox received for the 2000-2006 presidential term," an editorial in the daily newspaper La Jornada said. …