Tabasco Election Tests Influence of Two Potential Candidates for 2006 Presidential Race

Article excerpt

The center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) won a majority of seats in the state legislature in the southern state of Tabasco in elections on Oct. 19, seizing control from the former governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). The PRD also came out ahead of the PRI in several mayoral races in the state.

The elections were considered by some a test of the influence of two potential candidates in the 2006 presidential race, Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRD and PRI president Roberto Madrazo Pintado.

Madrazo and Lopez Obrador, both natives of Tabasco, campaigned heavily in the state on behalf of the candidates of their respective parties. Madrazo was able to garner support for PRI candidates primarily in the capital city of Villahermosa and surrounding areas, but was unable to overcome the influence of Lopez Obrador in outlying areas. Among the winners was the Mexico City mayor's brother, Jose Ramiro Lopez Obrador, who won the mayoral race in the city of Macuspana.

Madrazo's only symbolic victory came in the mayoral race in Villahermosa, where his protege Florizel Medina handily defeated Adan Augusto Lopez, who had received strong support from Lopez Obrador.

Tensions remain high between PRI, PRD

The latest election came against a backdrop of growing animosity between the PRI and the PRD following the most recent gubernatorial election. That race was originally held in October 2000, with current PRI Gov. Manuel Andrade defeating PRD rival Raul Ojeda Zubieta by a slim margin. The PRD and other opposition parties challenged the results of the election, charging outgoing governor Roberto Madrazo of conducting an extensive campaign to bribe and coerce voters to cast their ballots for the PRI (see SourceMex, 2000-10-18). In 2001, a federal electoral tribunal found enough evidence of irregularities to throw out the results of the election and order a new round of balloting (see SourceMex, 2001-01-10). Andrade won a special election in August 2001, again defeating Ojeda Zubieta (see SourceMex, 2001-08-08).

The PRD and PRI are likely to face off in another disputed gubernatorial race in Tabasco in 2006. For now, the PRD was encouraged by its performance in the state legislative races. The party took 11 of the 21 directly elected seats, compared with nine for the PRI and its coalition partner, the Partido Verde Ecologista Mexicano (PVEM). The center-right Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) won the other seat. Based on the proportion of the vote received by each party, the PRD was assigned another six seats, the PRI five, the PAN two, and the PVEM one. …