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Latin America

PRI retains control of Mexico’s lower chamber with support from its allies

Conservative PAN and leftist PRD parties suffer worst midterm defeats in over 20 years

President Enrique Peña Nieto during a recent Italy-Mexico conference. Ampliar foto
President Enrique Peña Nieto during a recent Italy-Mexico conference. EFE

President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will become the dominant force in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies with support from its two political allies, according to preliminary race results from the June 7 midterm elections.

Although the PRI lost 11 of the 214 seats it had previously held in the 500-member body, the National Electoral Institute (INE) estimates that it will retain control of the chamber with 260 seats by joining forces with the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) and New Alliance Party (PANAL).

The final election race results will be announced in July

Mexican voters gave the PVEM greens 47 seats – 20 more than the amount it had previously held in the lower chamber.

The INE will confirm the preliminary estimates late next month after it recounts votes in a host of race-result challenges filed by different parties in different states across the country.

The PRI was able to survive what had been expected to be a punishment vote aimed against Peña Nieto’s policies, including the privatization of education and reopening the energy sector to foreign investment.

At the same time, his administration has been under fire for the way it handled an investigation into the kidnapping and massacre of 43 teaching students in Iguala, Guerrero state, last September, and for a scandal involving a controversial property deal with links to first lady Angélica Rivera.

The campaign was marred by violence in some areas, with at least nine candidates running in local elections murdered.

With just the votes from PVEM, the PRI will be able to pass legislation without the help of the PANAL – a political force that was organized following the president’s controversial educational reform that broke the control of the powerful SNTE teachers union in the school system.

The main opposition National Action Party (PAN) did badly by winning only 108 seats, its worst result since 1994.

Similarly, Mexico’s third political force, the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), suffered its worst defeat since 1991 by only retaining 56 of the 99 seats it had held in the chamber.

A big chunk of the leftist vote went to Morena, a new party formed by former PRD presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is expected to run again in 2018.

Morena, which is expected to win 35 seats, makes its debut in Congress as the fourth-biggest political force.

PAN and PRD held ineffective and weak campaigns, say analysts

Analysts have blamed the PAN and PRD’s poor performances on the ineffective and weak campaigns they organized in the states that were also holding midterms, while the PRI – which had governed Mexico for more than 70 years before it lost to the PAN in 2000 – was able to once again put its strong electoral machine into action.

Meanwhile, a fight is expected for control of the conservative PAN before the next general election. The party is led by Margarita Zavala, the wife of former President Felipe Calderón (2006-2012).

Voter participation was listed at 47.7 percent – the highest for a midterm election since 1997.

Elections for the 128-seat Senate will not be held until 2018.

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