Macario Schettino offered a few points in his explanation of the PAN's loss: First, the party's tent has three powerful groups who interests don't always align: economic and political liberals (in the Latin American rather than the US sense of the word), Catholic conservatives, and business groups, which previously supported the PRI but began to switch in the 1980s. Second, needing to a create a government that satisfied two of these groups and in search of legislative agreements, Calderón (a liberal) compromised on his convictions and undermined any attempt for his PAN to formulate a coherent vision for Mexico. That, in turn, made the PAN largely indistinguishable from the PRI, and more susceptible to a negative vote with circumstances aligned against it. (I'd also add that it had the unfortunate impact of allowing religious conservatives to think that Calderón's flaw was in giving them the cold shoulder, and that all of Mexico is eagerly awaiting for "Guanajuatization".)
That all makes sense, but I'm also not sure Calderón standing on principle would have made him more successful this past Sunday. If he'd been less accommodating and had pushed just one reform package through congress, Calderón would have been subject the charge of, The economy is sinking and your president can't do anything about it. Really, (and Schettino has made this point before, I believe) as long as there are three parties and none of them are aligned under a coherent majority-held agenda, the president is going to have his hands tied. It's a tricky pickle.
José Luis Calva laid into Calderón for his government's response to the crisis. In response to the claim that the crisis came from abroad, Calva points out that exports add up to only 13 percent of the GDP. Calva also says that the US has spent 5.6 percent of its GDP in its response to the crisis and will shrink about 2.7 percent this year, while Mexico has only invested 0.8 percent of its GDP in crisis response, and is expected to shrink by about 8 percent. I think this at least partially disingenuous. Dealing with his second point first, the US spent hundreds of billions to prop up banks, but in Mexico the banks are in good shape, so there was no need to spend that cash on a Mexican TARP. I've read nothing about why Mexico is contracting so much relative to the US, but I find it virtually impossible to believe that it can be laid entirely at the feet of the governmental response. Calva doesn't give us any explanation beyond the statistic itself, which is telling. Hey, look, unemployment in the US is almost twice as high as it is in Mexico; should we conclude that the US would have been better off with a stimulus closer in size to that of Mexico?
As far as his first point, 13 percent is actually a pretty big chunk of the economy. If 13 percent of your economy declines by half, you're looking at a huge recession. And that's before you get into the further impact on internal consumption of export industries, i.e. the Mexican trucks that deliver stuff to maquiladoras, the extra money that factory operators spend on shoes for their family, et cetera, et cetera. Additionally, to dumb the impact of a worldwide crisis down to exports alone, and to conclude that any further impact must have an internal cause, is willfully misleading. Mexico faces a fiscal disaster because the crisis undercut oil prices. Remittances are plummeting and rural Mexican towns dependent on them are in danger of collapsing because of the weak American job market. The economy has made life tough on Mexico and Calderón in ways that go well beyond exports.