Partial results of Mexico’s elections indicate that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, despite managing to retain the largest caucus in Congress, has suffered major defeats by an opposition seeking to capitalize on discontent over his record of economic and crime-fighting policies.
According to preliminaries released by the National Electoral Institute (INE), AMLO’s governing coalition, as the president is known, should win between 265 and 292 of the 500 seats in the Chamber — short of the two-thirds majority required for constitutional changes , which the leftist managed to assemble in the first half of his term.
Before the election, the Morena (National Regeneration Movement), AMLO’s party, alone had 253 seats in the House—therefore, an absolute majority. Now, according to INE’s projections, it should have a total between 190 and 203.
In order to defend its majority, the left party has the votes of the Labor Party (from 35 to 41) and the Green Party (from 40 to 48). In practice, this means that Obrador will need to renew his ability to liaise with parliamentarians from other parties to try to advance his political project.
The centre-right PAN (National Action Party), the main opposition party to López Obrador, is expected to get between 106 and 117 seats, according to the survey. The third most voted acronym was the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), with total seats between 63 and 75. The Democratic Revolution Party must elect between 12 and 21 deputies. Together, the three parties, which formed an alliance against the governing coalition, have between 181 and 213 seats in the Chamber.
For political analysts, the opposition has achieved an important triumph by politically capitalizing on the discontent against the current government. The caveat, however, is that the shake-up in the pro-AMLO majority represents a movement of votes against the president, and not necessarily in favor of the opposing parties.
Losses at the House should reduce AMLO’s room for maneuver to pursue changes in the Constitution that strengthen its initiative to increase state control over the energy sector, contrary to the laws that opened the door for private companies in 2014.
Still, at the regional level, preliminary counts suggest that Morena had a successful election, winning most of the 15 state governments in dispute and increasing the party’s presence across the country.
An exception was the Mexican capital. Mexico City has been an important bastion for AMLO since he achieved national visibility as mayor from 2000 to 2005. But early results indicate that Morena may lose control of several of the 16 districts in the capital, which it once dominated.
The president welcomed the result, on Monday (7), as another step forward on the path to democracy. He thanked the public for ensuring that his political project still had a majority in the Chamber and, with it, control of the federal budget. In press conferences, he said that the elections were “free and clean” and that they were not subject to state intervention.
The new Chamber of Deputies, elected every three years, will begin its mandate on September 1st. The Senate, also dominated by Morena, is renewed every six years.
On Sunday, 15 out of 32 governors were also elected, in addition to more than 20,000 local offices. The president’s party would have won at least eight governments, according to preliminary results, which represents an advance in relation to the current six governments.
The elections came after an escalation of violence that saw the murder of 91 politicians, including 36 candidates or pre-candidates, according to consultancy Etellekt. The fear scenario may have interfered with voter turnout, which, according to INE, was between 51.7% and 52.5%.
On Sunday, two heads and body parts were placed at polling stations in Tijuana, a city on the US border.
On Saturday (5), five indigenous people carrying electoral material died in an ambush in the state of Chiapas. On Wednesday (2), Marilú Martínez, a candidate for mayor of Cutzamala de Pinzón, in the southern state of Guerrero, was kidnapped but later found alive.
On May 28, Cipriano Villanueva, a candidate for councilor for the municipality of Acapetahua by the Chiapas Unidos party, was shot dead. Three days earlier, Alma Barragán, who ran for mayor in Moroleón through the Citizen Movement in the central state of Guanjuato, was shot dead during an act with residents.