Monday, July 5, 2010

More Election Analysis

Beatriz Paredes says that the PRI's performance yesterday was overwhelming. Objectively speaking, there's no denying that she's correct. The PRI came away with 75 percent of the governors races against the unified force of the parties that together won around 70 percent of the 2006 presidential votes. Beyond the results themselves, the mere fact that the alliances were hammered out indicates that the success of the PRI is the driving force in Mexican politics right now.

At the same time, the perception is that the PRI stumbled. Paredes, who was not long ago predicting a 12-for-12 on the July 4 scoresheet, is a culprit on that score. The fact that Oaxaca and Puebla --both machine states in every sense of the term, both entities where the PRI (or its ancestors) had ruled for eighty years, both races that received a lot of attention from PRI bosses-- were both lost also contributes to that sense of disappointment. All that explains why the satisfaction expressed by Ortega and Nava (the authors of the alliances) seems more sincere than Paredes'.

In terms of the political significance of yesterday's elections, I think the most relevant question is whether the PRI has peaked. There's no question that it today remains the strongest single force in the nation, and Peña Nieto, for all his shortcomings, remains a more attractive candidate than anyone the PRD or the PAN is likely to nominate. But the party seems a lot more vulnerable today than it did after the elections a year ago. Furthermore, the loss in Oaxaca and the likelihood of another alliance in Mexico State next year suggest that Peña Nieto could well fail to hand over his post to another priísta, which the conventional wisdom says would doom his presidential chances. If that happens, we could be looking at a presidential race every bit as wide open as that of 2006.

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