As anticipated, Mexicans returned the presidency to the PRI on July 1. Enrique Peña Nieto, the nominee of the PRI and the Green Party, sailed to victory over the PRD and PAN candidates: with 95% of votes counted, Peña won 38.1% to AMLO’s 31.7% and Vasquez Mota’s 25.4%.
What’s worth mentioning about the results? For one, Peña’s margin was much smaller than the daily polls published by El Universal newspaper in conjunction with the reputable survey firm GEA-ISA projected. The final poll before the elections gave Peña 46.9% of the vote, 9.2 percentage points more than he actually received. The 14-16 percentage point margin Peña enjoyed in the polls earlier in the campaign eroded to just 6.3 points on July 1. So, although Peña won comfortably, his victory wasn’t the landslide that had been anticipated.
Neither did the PRI win control of Congress. Although the PRI and its coalition partner, the Green Party will hold more seats than any other party or coalition on both chambers of Congress, they will not hold a majority in either house.
Including the seats won by its Green allies, the PRI-Green’s 232 seats fell well short of the 251 seats required for an absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies. In fact, the coalition won fewer seats than the 239 the PRI alone held in the previous legislature. The two parties’ seat total fell by 30. The 2014 election could give Mr. Peña an absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies but, for the next two years, he will have to look for the votes he needs to pass legislation from other parties. Even if Peña can bring along all ten of the Panal’s deputies, he will still have to get some of the votes he needs for a majority from the PAN or the PRD.
In the Senate, the PRI-Green alliance did better. They are expected to win 57 of the chamber’s 128 seats, 16 more than in the previous legislature. Unlike the US where a third of the Senate is elected every two years, in Mexico all senators’ terms run the same six years as the presidential sexenio. The July 1 voting means that unless the new president can persuade some senators to change parties, he will never have a majority in the Senate. And, the senators whose votes he needs will have to come from the PRD or PAN.
Voters left no doubt they are disillusioned with the PAN. Their presidential candidate, who garnered only a quarter of the vote, was almost as far behind the second place AMLO as AMLO was behind Peña. In the Chamber, the PAN also finished third, behind the PRD and its Worker Party (PT) and Citizens’ Movement (Movimiento Ciudano) allies. The PAN is expected to end up with 118 seats, 24 less than in the prior legislature. The PAN is expected to be the second largest party in the Senate. Its expected 41 seats will be nine fewer than before.
Although AMLO lost by a much larger margin than his razor thin 2006 loss, the PRD and its allies picked up a hefty 52 more seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Their expected 140 seats will make the left the second largest grouping in the Chamber for the next two years. The party’s gains came at the expense of the PAN and PRI-Greens, which dropped 24 and 30 seats, respectively. The PRD-PT-Citizens’ Movement coalition lost four seats in the Senate. With just 29 seats, the left will be a distant third force in the Senate.