Mexicans turned up at the polls on Sunday (6). They elected 500 deputies, 15 governors (out of 32) and nearly 2,000 municipal presidents, as well as local authorities. The consultation took place in the middle of the presidential term and became a referendum on the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), just like his predecessors.
Preliminary results are varied, which, as is often the case, allows each political actor to highlight the data that favors him. For these elections, the main parties formed two great alliances.
The governing coalition was formed by Morena (Movement for National Regeneration), founded by AMLO, the Partido Verde Ecologist and the Partido do Trabalho. Among them, they had an absolute majority in Congress.
An unprecedented phenomenon occurred in the opposition. After the hurricane of AMLO’s victory three years ago, which swept the traditional parties, they began a process of convergence that has matured into these elections. Thus, the old PRI, the right-wing PAN, and the social-democrat PRD allied themselves. The aim was to prevent the government from reaching a qualified majority and being able to reform the constitution.
The government started three years ago with a program of changes, called the Fourth Transformation, 4Q, which seeks to fight corruption, meet social demands and bring about a renewal of politics. Since then, Mexican society has become increasingly polarized. Virulence characterizes the debate and “commentocracy” (the world of commentators) dominates much of the media, especially in the capital.
The government is not left behind. Since its inception, AMLO has been holding early morning press conferences, las mañaneras, which it attends delivering its message. Few fail to recognize that the president communicates with a good part of the population and also sets the agenda.
The poles of the debate range from denouncing the opposition to a new authoritarianism, to condemning the corrupt camaraderie capitalism, cuate capitalism, of which the president accuses his opponents.
Let us assume that each election has several results: numerical, political and communicational. Numerically, Morena and its allies lost the vast majority they had in Congress, but kept half plus one, so they can pass laws and budgets, but not enough to pass constitutional reforms.
The opposition, in turn, managed to block future constitutional reforms and prevented the ruling party from obtaining a qualified majority, but it remains a minority in Congress and in the country.
Faced with this situation, each side celebrates what is convenient for each. This in the Chamber of Deputies. Because in the elections for governors, Morena took a beating and took 11 of the 15 governorships, the PAN only won two and the PRI lost all it had.
The numbers above are the numbers. Politically, the opposition alliance allowed it to regain part of the parliamentary seats lost three years ago. The biggest share goes to the rightist PAN, which elects more than half of the opposition deputies. The PRI came in second and the PRD almost lost its record due to the very low vote it got.
In short, the alliance served the opposition well, but some more than others. In total, the electoral alliance was convincing and the three parties proclaimed their willingness to keep it in Congress. They will likely design it for presidential elections. In other words, we will have a united opposition, probably hegemonized by the right.
The media result is what is left on the retina. As happened at that Ibero-American summit held years ago, where an irrelevant document was discussed that led to the unforgettable cry of the King of Spain to Hugo Chávez: “why no te callas?”.
In the last elections, few were concerned about the results in the provinces (with the exception of its inhabitants). Eyes were on the capital, where the opposition took half of the municipalities. The capital was the bastion of the left and a bastion of AMLO.
Interestingly, on this occasion it was practically divided, between the west (home to the middle class and rich sectors) and the east (where “the race” lives, as the Mexicans say). In the west, the opposition alliance won and in the east the Morena. The probable hypothesis is that part of the middle sectors has migrated to the opposition.
The elections in Mexico City also had side effects. AMLO’s would-be successors were beginning to emerge. The most notorious: Minister Ebrard, of Foreign Affairs, and the head of the capital’s government, Claudia Sheilbaum. The capital’s electoral setback compromises the latter’s chances.
The explanation lies in the difficulties caused by the pandemic and the accident on line 12 of the subway that caused several deaths and mistrust of the authorities. The capital is home to most of the media, foreign correspondents and the broad and sophisticated intelligentsia.
What’s to come?
The second part of the six-year term is coming with a government that maintains many divisions but now has a base of governors. It has fewer deputies, but more territorial control.
AMLO has lost the crushing momentum of its beginnings, but retains enough strength to hold the reins of power. Morena, therefore, will have to carry out part of its ambitious proposal and start preparing the succession of its charismatic leader.
The opposition, in turn, regroups. But in addition to offering itself as a bastion, it should start proposing a project for a country that competes with the 4Q in the imagination of Mexicans. Therefore, more polarization is seen on the horizon.
A little more than half of eligible citizens voted in the elections. Because? A rigorous analysis of the vote, who voted, where and why, has yet to be done. For now, it is worth noting that there have been almost no complaints of fraud, something so common in recent Mexico, when the idea prevailed that “an election is never called whose outcome is not known”.
Life goes on. AMLO received Kamala Harris in Guatemala and greeted her as “president”. Relations with the United States are Mexico’s international priority and migration, trade and the fight against drug trafficking are on the agenda. The leftist Morena was able to develop a realistic understanding with the United States, not a small thing in Latin America.
The midterm elections are over and, as political analyst René Delgado points out, it is time for the main political actors to show that they not only know how to add up –calculate the number of elected representatives– but also how to read, that is, interpret what the Mexican society is telling them.
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