A political tremor rocked Mexico on Monday as the extent of the ruling party’s losses in Sunday’s election became clear, thrusting the nation into a new era of political pluralism.
The days of Mexico’s imperial presidency seemed over as returns released Monday showed voters denying the ruling party its majority in Congress for the first time in seven decades.
With 86 percent of ballots counted, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had almost 39 percent of the vote in the lower house of Congress, well short of the 42 percent it needs for controlunder Mexico’s complicated electoral system. The PRI’s control of the Senate was not at risk in Sunday’s vote.
Even if the PRI were to eke out a narrow legislative victory in final results expected today, analysts said, Sunday’s vote almost certainly will usher in an unprecedented balance of power among legislative factions, between the central government and opposition-held states and, most importantly, between the legislative branch and the traditionally all-powerful presidency.
The result is a new era of political uncertainty. A presidency and Legislature dominated by the PRI had been a central element of the one-party rule established after the Mexican Revolution of 1910-20.
The congressional vote marked the second part of a one-two punch that left the PRI gasping, although it will remain the largest political faction in Congress.
The second prize in the balloting, the highly influential Mexico City mayor’s job, has passed to an opposition candidate for the first time. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, won that contest - the first election for that position, regarded as a steppingstone to the presidency and one that previously was appointed - in a landslide.
The PRD also swept nearly all the seats in the Mexico City Legislature, shutting out the PRI. It nearly doubled its vote in the lower house of Congress.
At the other end of Mexico’s emerging power structure is the conservative right embodied in the National Action Party (PAN). The PAN, led by Felipe Calderon, now will control six states, dozens of major cities and towns and nearly a third of the nation’s legislative seats.