July State Elections Provide Victories for All Three Major Political Parties

SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico, July 11, 2001 | Go to article overview

July State Elections Provide Victories for All Three Major Political Parties


Mexico's three major parties each scored victories in state and municipal elections in Durango, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, and Baja California states on the first two Sundays in July.

Voter turnout was extremely light in all four states, with electoral authorities reporting participation of only 35% to 40% of registered voters in Baja California and Chihuahua, and 50% to 55% in Durango and Zacatecas.

PRD scores big gains in Zacatecas state

The center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) turned in its strongest performance in the northcentral state of Zacatecas on July 1, unseating the long-governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) as the party with the largest majority in the state legislature.

The PRD scored victories in 10 legislative districts and was allocated three other seats based on the percentage of the total vote received, bringing to 13 the number of party representatives in the state legislature.

The PRI, which held the majority after the 1998 election, will control 10 seats in the next state legislature. In contrast, the center-right Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) will have just four representatives, with only one of those attained through a direct election. Three other seats were divided between two minor parties.

The PRD's strong performance was a victory for popular Gov. Ricardo Monreal Avila, who is credited with bringing supporters of the PRI and other parties into the ranks of the PRD. Monreal is a former PRI member, having left the party in 1998 in a dispute about the selection of the party's candidate for the gubernatorial race (see SourceMex, 1998-02-11). Running under the PRD banner, Monreal defeated his PRI rival in a landslide (see SourceMex, 1998-07-08).

Monreal has already established an exploratory committee to determine whether he should seek the PRD nomination in the 2006 presidential election. If so, he could face a competitive primary with Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has also expressed interest in seeking the nomination.

"The incorporation of members of other parties in the PRD, principally former PRI militants, confirms the capacity for consensus that Monreal has within the [Zacatecas] society," the official news agency Notimex said in an analysis of the election.

The PRD also won 22 of 57 mayoral elections, including the capital city of Zacatecas, which has the same name as the state.

PRI turns in strong performances in Durango, Chihuahua

The PRI flexed its muscles in the state legislative and municipal races in Durango and Chihuahua in elections also held on July 1. The party, which controls the governor's seat in both states, primarily held back challenges from the PAN, with the PRD presenting only token opposition.

In Chihuahua, the PRI took 14 of 22 directly elected seats in the state legislature and won 45 of 65 mayoral elections. The PRI victories included a narrow win in the state capital of Chihuahua city, which the PAN had hoped to wrest away from it.

Similarly, the PRI was unable to unseat the PAN from the mayoral post in the industrial city of Ciudad Juarez, where the PAN has governed for nine years. Even with a convincing loss in Juarez, the PRI has filed a complaint with Chihuahua electoral authorities, accusing outgoing Mayor Gustavo Elizondo of violating campaign laws by using the airwaves to indirectly endorse PAN candidate Jesus Alfredo Delgado during the week before the election.

Elizondo, while not mentioning Delgado's name, appeared in several television announcements urging residents of the border city to exercise their right to vote. PRI leaders said the visibility given to a PAN mayor gave his party's candidate an unfair advantage. …

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