Tag Archives: Democracy

A Fragmented Political Landscape

Andrew SeleeBy Andrew Selee

It’s too early to know the full impact of yesterday’s elections in Mexico, but there is no question that these were far more momentous than midterm elections usually are, with profound short-term and long-term consequences for the future of Mexico’s political system.  Here are four quick takeaways on the implications of the results:

* The political landscape in Mexico is now more fragmented than ever before with no single party towering over the others.  Mexico has long been a political system based on three strong parties and a few smaller ones.  Now there are at least five, if not more, that appear to have a significant base of support.  The victory of an independent candidate in Nuevo Leon, Mexico’s most economically important state, sets a very important precedent that will decentralize the political system even more in the future and allow citizens to organize outside the traditional parties.

* It was a mixed night for President Enrique Pena Nieto and the PRI.  Although the PRI appears to have won the largest number of votes for Congress and state governors, the party won less than 30 percent of the vote, appears to have lost a few crucial governors’ races that it had expected to win (Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, and Michoacan), and will have to piece together a working majority in the Congress with the Green Party, the New Alliance Party, and perhaps a few others on key votes.  Of course, it’s not unusual for the incumbent party to lose ground in the midterm elections (this is the fourth straight time it’s happened), but the PRI seemed to be in a particularly strong position going into this election and expected to do much better.  This election is hardly a repudiation of Pena Nieto’s government — which will likely be able to move forward with its reform agenda in Congress — but it’s certainly not a ringing endorsement either.

* The PAN came in as the second strongest party, though it received only a fifth of the votes, and the left divided like never before among various parties.  Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party, Morena, made a very respectable showing against the PRD, probably winning five of Mexico City’s delegations (municipalities) and presenting a strong challenge to the PRD in the bastion of the left.

* The elections were actually carried out in relative peace, despite attempts to disrupt them in three states in the south.  However, an unusually high number of voters (roughly five percent) appear to have left their ballots blank in protest against all of the political parties.

In the next few hours, we will know more about how the main parties ended up and who will govern each state, but clearly this is an election that has shaken the foundations of Mexico’s political system like few others.

Andrew Selee is the Executive Vice President of the Wilson Center and Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute.

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Mexico Elections: Parties Generating Passions Incendiary in Weak Political Culture

By Mexico Voices, 04/14/15

This was a column originally published in Reforma: Diego Valadés – Translated by Mexico Voices

In a democratic system, the citizens’ expectations of freedom, welfare and justice tend to be very high. When these anticipated goals are not met, dissatisfaction can rise and, in general, affects leaders’ images. However, in systems with lower levels of legal-political culture, nonconformity is directed less toward government officials and more towards politics and, at a critical phase, even against democracy.

Although there aren’t foolproof indicators, there are scientific methods for measuring the results of constitutional systems. One example of these methods is from The Economist’s Intelligence Unit. Already in its seventh edition, their democracy index is based on five categories: electoral process and party pluralism; government functioning; political participation; political culture, and civil liberties. In the 2014 survey, Mexico placed 57th out of 167 countries.

As accustomed as we are to belonging to the lower segment of international tables, this place might not be so bad. According to their scoring system, countries are grouped as full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes. We are placed among the 52 countries that make up the second group and not among the 24 countries of the first, which includes Uruguay (17) and Costa Rica (24).

On their scale of 1 to 10, our strongest category had to do with our electoral process, which received an 8.33. In government functioning and political participation, we barely received a 6; in political culture, a 5. In this last category, only 5 of the 52 flawed democracies were classified below Mexico.

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Mexico Election Insanity: Neither Voting Nor Not-Voting Will Produce Different Result

By Mexico Voices, 04/10/15

This was a column originally published in La Jornada: Gustavo Esteva – Translated by Mexico Voices

It is healthy to discuss the electoral issue throughout the entire country. A minority are preparing to participate, or not, in the exercise without reflecting on it. On the rise, however, is the number of those who wonder seriously, perhaps as never before, whether it makes sense to vote.

We are in a disastrous condition. Half of Mexican families cannot leave their houses at night or let their children play in the street. We live in fear. The number of dead, kidnapped, disappeared, attacked or assaulted are on the rise, as are the unemployed and people living below the poverty line. Education, health and transport services are in open decline. Freedoms are routinely canceled and rights regularly violated. One village after another is forced to put up stiff resistance, because the lands they won with a revolution [Mexican Revolution, 1910-1917] are threatened. One-half of Mexico’s territory has been handed over to private corporations, and the government conspires with them to evict their rightful owners. Environmental destruction deepens and causes irreversible damage.

The list of evils is endless. They are becoming increasingly serious. We cannot go on like this. Is it possible to drive the needed change either by voting or abstaining? Seemingly, neither a radical discrediting of the group in power by means of adverse votes nor an [electoral] boycott will make a difference, since a massive and overwhelming electoral victory may turn out to be insignificant in the face of the disaster. Changing the partisan composition of some governmental agencies and delegitimizing the political leaders would not have a major impact on the situation. Actually, no election result would be relevant … except for those who want to grab a piece of the political pie.
Visit here for more information on the parties for this election.
Visit here for more information regarding the last political reform in Mexico.
Visit here for our polls analysis.