Sweep of Gubernatorial Elections in Three States Puts Partido Revolucionario Institucional in Good Shape for 2012 Presidential Race
Navarro, Carlos, SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico
A term in Mexican politics describes the goal that political parties attempt to reach during a given election--carro completo (full cart). This means sweeping the elections but not necessarily taking every single race. There is no denying that the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) attained the carro completo in the July 3, 2011, elections, with overwhelming victories in the gubernatorial elections in Mexico state, Coahuila, and Nayarit, and the municipal election in the city of Pachuca in Hidalgo state. For some, the PRI's resounding victory, particularly in Mexico state, puts the party on track to win the 2012 presidential elections. If there were any negative trends for the PRI, it was that the Mexico state election was won with fairly low voter turnout and the elections in Hidalgo state resulted in a net loss in municipalities for the party.
Turnout extremely low in Mexico state
Many consider the PRI's overwhelming victory in Mexico state the event that will anoint outgoing Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto as the PRI's 2012 presidential candidate. And, with the weakened opposition, there is even more reason to think that Pena Nieto might be one step away from the presidency. Many analysts believe that Pena Nieto's popularity, in a state that has 13% of Mexico's registered voters, was a key factor in the large margin by which PRI candidate Eruviel Avila Villegas, mayor of the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec, won the gubernatorial race.
Results released by the Instituto Electoral del Estado de Mexico (IEEM) indicate that Avila, who was also representing the Partido Verde Ecologista de Mexico (PVEM) and Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL), received almost 63% of the total vote, compared with 21% for Alejandro Encinas of the center-left coalition led by the Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) and 13% for Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of the Partido Accion Nacional (PAN). The center-left coalition comprises the PRD, the Partido del Trabajo, and the Partido Convergencia por la Democracia (PCD).
But other factors beyond the numbers contributed to the overwhelming PRI victory. Voter turnout was disappointing, with participation down in some major communities like Ecatepec, Naucalpan, and Nezahualcoyotl because of flooding caused by heavy rains. The final tally showed that only about 44% of the electorate participated, with voter turnout at about 35% in communities affected by the floods. The flooding forced authorities to move some precincts.
Analysts suggested that voters in many of these communities were angry at the Pena Nieto administration and the federal government for not doing enough to develop the infrastructure that would have prevented the floods, but they showed their discontent by staying away from the polls rather than voting for the only alternative, Encinas of the center-left coalition.
Still, the rate of abstentionism in the Mexico state election was the highest in the last 25 years and perhaps reflected a sense that the result was predetermined because of Avila's large margin in polls conducted before the election.
"One has to take into account the lack of motivation that people had to participate in a vote in which the difference between the leading candidate and the second- and third-place rivals was so large," columnist Luis Estrada wrote in Milenio.com. He argued that the rate of participation in the flooded communities was not that much smaller than the average for the state.
Others also thought the pre-election polls had a lot to do with the final lack of participation. "Citizens do not believe there is competition, and when there is no competition, there is no interest," said Francisco Garate, PAN representative to the IEEM.
The lack of other races besides the gubernatorial election in Mexico state might have also contributed to low voter turnout.
Others pointed to a trend, the decline in total votes, at a time when the population of Mexico state is growing. …