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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Mexico Captures Zetas Drug Kingpin in Another Blow to Cartels

Arrest is second high-profile capture of a kingpin in past week and a boost to President Enrique Pena Nieto's efforts to battle organized crime
More

Colombia Detains China Cosco Shipping Vessel Over Illegal Arms

The detained vessel, operated by Cosco Shipping Co Ltd, was headed for Cuba when it was stopped; the illegal cargo was detected during an inspection
More

Weapons Found on Chinese-Flagged, Cuba-Bound Ship

Authorities in Cartegena, Colombia, detained ship Saturday; captain faces trafficking charges
More

US Weighs Venezuela’s Order to Cut US Embassy Staff

US State Department dismisses Caracas’ charge of undermining government as ‘baseless’
More

Venezuela Lets Uruguay Pay for Oil With Goods, Services

Struggling economy, currency controls in Venezuela have led to shortages of medicine, toilet paper, flour, shampoo, other basic goods
More

US Proposes Making Radio Marti, Broadcaster to Cuba, Independent

Officials say proposal was unrelated to Cuba outreach and aimed at modernizing the broadcaster
More