The electoral battle for Mexico City

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Mexico City is home to more than 9 million people. However, the daily metropolitan area movements reach 29 million people. In addition to this, the city is the seat to the three branches, as well as very prominent private companies. Therefore, population density and political resonance are some conditions that make Mexico City politically attractive. In fact, governing the city can boost political aspirations of the mayors. This has occurred since 1997, when the inhabitants of Mexico City had the opportunity for the first time to choose their authorities – before this, both the delegation chiefs (figure similar to the municipalities) and the Mayor were elected by the President. This was true with Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the first Mayor of Mexico City and former presidential candidate in 2000 for the third time; with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, former presidential candidate in 2006 and in 2012; and with Marcelo Ebrard, who ran to be the presidential candidate in 2012, but lost against López Obrador in the primary elections.

While the contemporary history of Mexico City should be told predominantly from the left, as it has been the bastion of these political forces for 18 years, the fragmentation of the left parties and the growing competition from traditional parties, such as the PRI and the PAN, make this 2015 election crucial to determine the political future of the capital. Here, we present an analysis of the conditions at play and some of its most important players.

While previous mayors, like the current mayor Miguel Mancera, were chosen by alliances led by the PRD, the story today is very different. Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the historic leader of the party, resigned his membership this year. Andrés Manuel López Obrador is currently the main leader of the new party MORENA, which encompasses, among other characters, former close aides who worked with him during his term in Mexico City’s office. Marcelo Ebrard sought a place as Federal Deputy in these elections but by Citizens’ Movement (MC), a previously close ally of the PRD. In fact, electoral authorities determined his ineligibility for quitting the PRD just before enrolling in the other party. Thus, the division of the left becomes more evident in Mexico City leadership.

The bottom line is that the competition between the PRD and MORENA will potentially be close in some areas of the city. Most of the PRD candidates have been chosen from local leaderships and closeness to Miguel Mancera’s administration and PRD national leadership. On the other hand, MORENA candidates are basically national-level figures, such as former state governors and people close to the López Obrador political group. Thus, although the PRD currently governs 14 of the 16 delegations (see map), it is expected to have strong competition in very important places such as Iztapalapa and Cuauhtémoc.

Historically, the PAN and the PRI have had little presence in Mexico City. The PAN currently rules the Benito Juárez delegation, which has been its political bastion in the city for the last several years, and the PRI rules the Cuajimalpa delegation. In the case of the PAN, some important figures are also competing for delegations such as Miguel Hidalgo, and the party aspires to govern more delegations as they did in the midterm elections of 2009 (see map). For its part, the PRI Cuajimalpa aspires to preserve and perhaps strengthen its presence in other areas of the capital. Just a couple of weeks ago, Cuajimalpa recorded a violent confrontation between supporters of the PRI and PRD, which ended with a non-aggression pact between state party leaders.

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In summary, these 2015 elections for Mexico City will measure the strength of different leaderships and parties on the left that will lay out the competition towards the 2018 Presidential Election. At the same time, electoral competition between the PRD and MORENA will be close in some areas of the capital.This is especially important as this is the first election for the latter party. Finally, this increasing competition and its immediate consequence of split voting could help the PRI and the PAN to gain positions. Finally, this electoral battle in Mexico City comes at a crucial time when Congress is discussing the creation of a new Constituent Congress to give Mexico City a constitution and character as a federal entity, which would affect the checks and balances that the city has historically had (see our latest Op-Ed on the topic).

Visit here for more information on this election.
Visit here for information regarding political parties in Mexico.
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