Wednesday, March 29, 2006

interpreting the Edo Mex municipal elections

Earlier this month, the Estado de Mexico held local elections for representatives to the federal congress (diputados) as well as mayors (presidentes municipales). The foreign press is reading this as a major victory for the PRD and an indication of AMLO's strength. I would caution against both of those inferences.

The PRD won in the two largest cities (suburbs of Mexico City: Nezahualcoyotl and Ecatepec). The PRD previously held the mayorship in Neza and last year's PRD governor candidate did well in both cities. Ecatepec had a PRI mayor, but performance had been disappointing, so the PRD capture of that city hall is understandable. What was largely ignored is that three other leading cities were won by the PAN: Tlalnepantla, Naucalpan and Toluca (the state capital).In all three cases, this was predictable: the PAN had these mayorships and a solid record of accomplishment.

In terms of congressional seats, the PRI is down and the PRD is up, and the PAN was stable.

My interpretation of these data is that Mexican voters do not have party loyalty. Last July, the PRI candidate won half the votes in the state (and here in Toluca). These same voters just gave a comfortable margin to the PAN candidate for mayor, Juan Rodolfo, though last year's PAN candidate for governor got only about a third of the vote.

The implications of this for the forthcoming presidential election is that no party can take the voters for granted.

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