Monthly Archives: June 2009

Final polls: Slight advantage PRI

Mitofsky Congressional poll

Mitofsky Congressional poll

Mitofsky and GEA-ISA have published their final polls before the cutoff in opinion polling dictated by the election law.

The Mitofsky survey points to a PRI win by 5.2%, up from the 4.1% estimated in May. Mitofsky  estimates that the PRI will capture about 222 seats in the 500 seat Chamber of Deputies — with a minimum of 210 seats and a maximum of 234 — still well short of a majority. Of the minor parties, the PSD seems certain to fail to reach the 2% threshold of the national vote required to keep their party registration, while the PANAL and Convergencia hover around the 2% mark.

GEA-ISA congressional poll

GEA-ISA congressional poll

The GEA-ISA national survey shows the two top parties essentially tied within the margin of error. In May this survey gave a 1.5% advantage to the PAN, while it now shows the PRI up by 2.4%. GEA-ISA estimates that the PRI will capture 212 seats in the Chamber.  This survey also estimates that three parties — PANAL, PSD, and Convergencia will fail to reach the 2% threshold of the national vote to keep their party registration.

Election preview: Chamber of Deputies

The political dynamic of the next three years will be most affected by the outcome of the congressional election, where a new Chamber of 500 Deputies will be elected, 300 by direct district election, 200 by proportional representation, off of party lists.  The outcomes to watch are:

Congress current composition

Congress current composition

Overall outcome. While one major pollster (GEA-ISA) has the PAN and the PRI essentially tied within the margin for error, the PRI holds a 4-5% lead over the PAN in most surveys. Momentum has moved back and forth between the two major parties. The PRI margin is enough to gain a plurality of seats but not a majority.  The most likely outcome is a near repeat of the 2003 mid-term vote (PRI 38%, PAN 32%, PRD 18%).  If the PAN tops the PRI in the popular vote or, alternatively, the PRI (either by itself, or with the PVEM) gets a majority of the seats (which would require 42%+ of the popular vote), the outcome will have a significant impact on the role of Congress during the second half of the sexenio.

Leftist party vote. How will AMLO’s alienation from the PRD play out? Will he be able to attract votes for the PT, which has become his de facto party? The PRD, PT, and Covergencia are currently polling about 16%, 3%, and 2%, respectively.

Performance of the Greens (PVEM).  Recently dubbed the ‘Party of Televisa’ because of the number of congressional candidates who have ties to Televisa or TV Azteca, and because of the favorable TV coverage its candidates have received, particularly on Televisa. A strong Green vote will say nothing about Mexico’s commitment to environmentalism, and much about the ability of the broadcasters to  manipulate the system. The PVEM currently polls about 6%, but getting its top listed candidates into Congress may be a more relevant indicator.

Null Vote logo

Null Vote logo

Vote nullification/abstention. Polls suggest that null votes could reach 15% of the ballots cast. Anything close to that figure will be a major blow to the credibility of the existing ‘partyocracy.’ Only 42% of registered voters cast ballots in the last mid-term election; a decrease in participation will increase pressure for meaningful political reform.

Election preview: Governors

Six states are electing governors, 4 currently controlled by the PRI and 2 by the PAN. Nuevo León, Sonora, and San Luis Potosí are close races between the PRI and the PAN. Campeche and Colima seem certain to remain under PRI control, while Querétaro will stay with the PAN. Even if the PAN exceeds expectations in the federal Chamber of Deputies election, poor performance in these state races could damage the party nationally. The three close races are:

  • Nuevo Leon. Fernando Elizondo of the PAN vs. Rodrigo Medina of the PRI. At the start of the campaign, Elizondo, who is backed by the Monterrey business community, was the odds-on favorite, largely because of the poor performance of outgoing PRI governor Natividad González.  Elizondo ran a weak campaign, while Medina benefitted from massive TV coverage, especially on sports shows. The PAN has also been hit by the scandal involving its candidate for mayor of the Monterrey suburb of Garza García and his alleged contacts with the Beltran Leyva cartel. The last Universal poll shows a 6% PRI lead.
  • Sonora. The outgoing administration of Eduardo Bours has been badly hurt by the scandal of the ABC day care center fire. What had been a safe PRI state (in May the PRI had a 15% lead) could now go to the PAN, and the national party has invested heavily in attacking Bours. The PAN candidate is Guillermo Padrés Elías, and the PRI candidate is Alfonso Elías Serrano. The two are cousins, both descendants of General Plutarco Elias Calles (President 1924-28).
  • San Luis Potosí.  PAN candidate Alejandro Zapata Perogordo has only a 3 point lead over Fernando Toranzo Fernández of the PRI according to an El Universal poll. This should have been a safe state for the PAN, and a loss here would be a major blow.

Election preview:Mexico City borough presidents

Two of the races, in particular, have captured broad attention:

Miguel Hidalgo. Demetrio Sodi of the PAN will try to keep this well-heeled borough in the PAN column–the PRD holds 14 of the 16 boroughs. Sodi is the former PAN candidate for mayor of Mexico City, and his challenger is Ana Gabriela Guevara of the PRD.

Iztapalapa. Will the López Obrador-backed candidate for the PT beat the official PRD candidate?  At stake is control of the patronage machine in Mexico City’s most populous borough, and a test of whether AMLO still dictates the fate of Mexico’s Left.

Beltrones pitches for political reform

PRI Senate coordinator Manlio Fabio Beltrones published a Reforma oped that endorses a sweeping political reform agenda, while at the same time saying the elections will mean “the end of divided and the beginning of shared government.” As Beltrones lays them out, the eight points are:

1. Ratification of cabinet members by the Senate. This will ensure that the leaders of the institutions will be the most capable and honest Mexicans, not just those who are closest and most loyal.

2. Reduction in the size of the Congress. No proportional election seats in the Senate, and a reduction of 100 Deputies of proportional representation.

3. Immediate reelection of legislators and municipal officials, in order to make politics a profession and to bring representatives closer to their electors.

4. Reorganization of the Federal Government, in order to reduce outlays, avoid duplication, and make the government work better and cost less.

5. Popular referenda on transcendental constitutional questions, in order to integrate citizen participation in national affairs.

6. Revocation of mandates, with sufficient limitations to prevent the abuse of this citizen instrument, in order to return to the people the ability to demand accountability from those who govern.

7. Accountability, giving to the Superior Auditor of the Federation broader powers, and making it the sole responsible body for combating governmental impunity, negligence, and corruption.

8. Modern economic regulation, with functional and operational autonomy for the Cofetel, Cofeco y Cofemer, in order to recover the guiding role of the State.

10 questions the elections will answer

Leo Zuckermann poses 10 questions to be answered by the July 5 elections:

1. Will the PRI get a majority in the Chamber of Deputies. They will need to win 167 of the 300 direct election seats and 42.2% of the national vote to do so.

2. Will the PRI, together with their traditional ally the Green Party, get the majority?

3. Will the PAN get the minimum 168 Deputies needed to keep a veto on the approval of the annual expenditure budget?

4. Who many deputies will López Obrador control, including his supporters in the PRD, the PT, and Convergencia.

5. Depending on the aswers to the previous questions, how weakened will the President be for the second half of his term?

6. How far down will the PRD fall?  Will they go back to their historical average of 15-18%.

7. Who will win the gubernatorial election in Nuevo León, the ‘crown jewel’ of this election?

8. How much impact will the fire in the ABC day care center have on the gubernatorial election in Sonora?

9. What will happen in Iztapalapa? Will Los Chuchos or the Pejistas win?

10. How large will be the protest movement against the parties? Will it be just an elite movement, or will it get significant support from the citizenry?

Florence Cassez to serve term in Mexico

President Felipe Calderón and Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa announced that the government had rejected the request to repatriate Florence Cassez, a French citizen, to France to serve her sentence under the terms of the Strasbourg Convention. When Nicolas Sarkozy visited Mexico in March, the ‘Affaire Cassez’ was one of the French president’s principal agenda items. She was convicted in 2008 of kidnapping, membership in a criminal gang, and possession of forbidden weapons. She was sentenced to 96 years in prison, which was later reduced to 60 years. Calderón said “it was not acceptable to Mexico” that she could be released or have her sentence reduced if she returned to France.  “The federal government is committed to seeing that the victims of kidnapping and their families will get justice,” he said.  (Universal 6/22, Excelsior 6/22)

More troops sent to Juárez as killings spike up

The Army sent 2,500 fresh troops to Ciudad Juárez, relieving the existing 1,500 man garrison. While gang related killings in the border city dropped to an average of one per day after the initial military intervention in March, in recent weeks the rate has gone back up to 8 or 9 per day, according to authorities. (Universal 6/21).

IMSS sues Sonora government for day care center deaths

Daniel Karam, the head of the Social Security Institute (IMSS), announced that the IMSS had sued the Sonora State Finance Ministry for civil damages related to the fire in the ABC Day Care Center in Hermosillo. The toll reached 47, with the death of a 2-year old girl today. The Finance Ministry was the day care center’s co-tenant, and Karam said, “This fire was caused by the negligence of those responsible for the warehouse used by the State of Sonora.” Columnist Ricardo Alemán noted, “The governor of Sonora, Eduardo Bours, has become a dead weight for the PRI. … The tragic scandal that killed the [47] children, the offensive family business of Bours’ relatives with day care centers, the phony state investigation, and today’s federal lawsuit … are a lethal media blow which could wind up painting Sonora blue [the color of the PAN].” (Excelsior 6/22, Universal 6/22)

Iztapalapa pits AMLO against the PRD

The election for borough president of Iztapalapa, the key to the PRD’s grip on Mexico City, was further complicated by Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s call for his supporters to vote for the PT candidate, who pledged not to serve if elected. Leo Zuckermann describes the scenario: 

Surreal México is where Clara Brugada wins the PRD primary election to be the candidate for Iztapalapa borough president. Her opponent, Silvia Oliva, files a complaint with the party bodies, arguing that there was fraud. The party authorities procrastinate. Finally, Oliva goes to the Federal Electoral Tribunal. This body nullifies the vote in several voting places where there was fraud. Oliva wins. She is the new candidate. But the ballots have already been printed. Under the logo of the PRD, Brugada appears. The Tropical Messiah [AMLO] makes his entrance. He is annoyed because his political ally has been thrown out. He organizes a meeting with his supporters. He calls on them not to vote for the Brugada who appears on the ballot, because that is in fact a vote for Oliva. He invites them to vote for a fellow named Juanito, puppet number one, who is the candidate of another party, the PT. AMLO announces that if he wins, Juanito will immediately resign from his post, and that as the cacique of the Left, he will call on another of his puppets, Marcelo Ebrard, the Mayor of Mexico City, to nominate Brugada to replace Juanito as Iztapalapa president. This would be ratified by the DF Legislative Assembly, AMLO’s third puppet. Juanito swears to do what the boss ordered. Conclusion: if Brugada wins, it’s Oliva who wins. If Juanito wins, Juanito loses and Brugada wins. Pure surrealism.

PRD party president Jesús Ortega issued a statement saying, “Any party militant who calls for a vote for the candidates of another party is, in reality, betraying our principles and seeking to deceive the citizens who are activists, sympathize, or work for the PRD.” (Excelsior 6/18, Reforma 6/18)