News / Americas

Mexico Opposition Wins Key State Vote, Boosts Reform Outlook

Candidate for governor of Baja California Francisco Vega De La Madrid (C) celebrates with fellow members of the National Action Party (PAN) in Tijuana, July 7, 2013.
Candidate for governor of Baja California Francisco Vega De La Madrid (C) celebrates with fellow members of the National Action Party (PAN) in Tijuana, July 7, 2013.
Reuters
— Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's economic agenda looked to be on surer footing after local elections on Sunday yielded results that favor a cross-party pact he forged to push reforms through Congress.
 
In the most closely watched race, the conservative National Action Party (PAN) won a tight contest for governor in its stronghold of Baja California, an outcome that should help defuse tensions between the opposition and Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
 
Baja California was the only governor's office up for grabs as nearly half of Mexico's 31 states voted for a mix of local parliaments and city halls, producing results that allowed both the PRI and the PAN to claim success at the ballot box.
 
In Baja California, the PAN had accused the PRI of trying to steal the election, so a change of power could have destabilized the “Pact for Mexico” the president made with the opposition to help strengthen his hand in Congress, where he lacks a majority.
 
But a preliminary vote count on Monday showed the PAN won the race, about three percentage points ahead of the centrist PRI.
 
The PAN's triumph is probably more useful to Pena Nieto than a win for his own party would have been because it should foster consensus-building on the key planks of his legislative program: opening up state oil monopoly Pemex to more private investment and a reform to bolster tax revenues.
 
News of the PAN victory helped push up the peso more than one percent against the dollar in early trading.
 
PRI chairman Cesar Camacho hinted that his party might challenge the vote count in Baja California. But Pena Nieto later urged all sides to accept the results, underlining the need to keep things friendly in Congress.
 
“I reiterate that the government is ready to continue the dialog and deal-making with the political forces to agree the reforms need to consolidate our democracy and speed up Mexico's development and progress,” Pena Nieto said in Mexico City.
 
A woman casts her vote in a ballot box for delegates at a polling station in San Bartolome Quialana, on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico, July 7, 2013.A woman casts her vote in a ballot box for delegates at a polling station in San Bartolome Quialana, on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico, July 7, 2013.
x
A woman casts her vote in a ballot box for delegates at a polling station in San Bartolome Quialana, on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico, July 7, 2013.
A woman casts her vote in a ballot box for delegates at a polling station in San Bartolome Quialana, on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico, July 7, 2013.
The electoral process had deteriorated into mud-slinging and mutual recriminations between the PRI and PAN by the time Mexicans cast their votes on Sunday, with each side accusing the other of resorting to dirty tricks to gain advantage.
 
Violence also blighted the campaign, with several activists from the main parties murdered in a reminder of the government's struggle to curb blood-letting by drug gangs that has claimed more than 70,000 lives since the start of 2007.
 
Pan Blues
 
Outside of Baja California, the PRI did not go empty-handed, notching up some notable victories in mayoral elections.
 
Jorge Buendia, head of polling firm Buendia & Laredo, said that the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), Mexico's main leftist group and co-signatory of the pact, had fared less well.
 
However, the PRD, which ran on a joint platform with the PAN in several electoral battlegrounds, including Baja California, said that it too had made important advances in some states.
 
With 97 percent of the polling booths reporting in Baja California, the PAN gubernatorial ticket had won 47.2 percent of the vote against 44.2 percent for the PRI candidate, preliminary results from the local electoral authority showed.
 
Since it lost the Mexican presidency last year, the PAN has been bogged down in infighting that has rattled the stability of the political accord Pena Nieto unveiled in December.
 
PAN chairman Gustavo Madero, whose leadership has been under attack, said the party would still have to evaluate its commitment to the Pact for Mexico after an election campaign he said was marred by attempts by the PRI to steal and buy votes.
 
But he said the results had vindicated the PAN.
 
“We are still convinced that Mexico needs reforms,” Madero told Mexican radio, referring to the energy and tax plans.
 
FILE - President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during the presentation of a telecommunications reform bill in Mexico City, March 11, 2013.FILE - President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during the presentation of a telecommunications reform bill in Mexico City, March 11, 2013.
x
FILE - President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during the presentation of a telecommunications reform bill in Mexico City, March 11, 2013.
FILE - President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during the presentation of a telecommunications reform bill in Mexico City, March 11, 2013.
Those ambitious reforms are due to be presented to Congress by early September. Pena Nieto is likely to face strong opposition from the left, especially to the Pemex shake-up.
 
Tax reform and the Pemex overhaul are vital to Pena Nieto's hopes to raise economic growth to six percent a year from an average of barely two percent since the millennium began.
 
Pollster Buendia said setbacks for the left on Sunday were likely to push the PRI closer to the PAN's position on how to approach Pemex reform, implying a stronger push to open up the state oil giant to foreign capital.
 
The PRD lost control of the local government in the tourist resort of Cancun, where the PRI candidate won by a clear margin.
 
Buendia said that with no major round of elections due in Mexico until 2015, the pendulum was swinging towards a more business-friendly political platform for economic reform.
 
“For a couple of years what we're going to see is that there will be fewer approaches between the PAN and the PRD and more between the PRI and the PAN,” he said.

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US
More

US Ambassador Calls for LGBT Rights

John Berry spoke at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne
More

China's Xi Praises Close Ties with Cuba

Head of China's Communist Party hails common socialist bond between his country and Cuba as he kicks off a state visit in Havana
More

US Judge Orders Argentina, Creditors to Reach Deal

Lawyers for investors who declined to restructure bonds after country defaulted on about $100B in 2002 warned that time running out to reach a deal, avert fresh default
More

Trial Imminent for Detained Venezuelan Protest Leader Lopez

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, says outside pressure needed on Venezuelan president to move case forward
More

Sex Workers Seek HIV Prevention

The Lancet publishes new series on HIV
More