López Obrador Holds Majority but Loses Steam in ElectionsBy Cas Biekmann | Mon, 06/07/2021 - 12:58
President López Obrador appears to be holding his majority in Congress and could swoop up many desired governor positions, according to quick count results of Mexico’s largest mid-term elections. Nevertheless, ruling party Morena and its allies fell short of a supermajority needed to push presidential constitutional changes and opposition coalition party PRI, PAN and PRD managed to capitalize on López Obrador’s handling of the pandemic, increasing bloodshed, omission to boost the economy, aggressive reforms in the energy sector and a failure to address gender-based violence and crime.
The National Electoral Institute (INE) expects the coalition in power to win between 265 and 292 lower house seats out of a total 500. Morena itself could win between 190 and 203 seats. A two-thirds majority of at least 334 seats is necessary to push constitutional amendments through Congress. Voter turnout was just above 51 percent, considered a high amount for mid-term elections. The results for governor positions are still to be verified, despite declarations of victory coming from various candidates.
Sunday´s elections were largely seen as a referendum on López Obrador’s policy direction, which he calls Mexico’s Fourth Transformation (4T), a reference to three important transformations in Mexico’s past. López Obrador’s wants to overhaul Mexico’s neoliberal reforms of previous administrations, claiming they only benefitted the elites and fostered corruption to the detriment of the state-owned companies PEMEX and CFE. Independent institutions and courts found themselves disparaged by the President, who wanted to cut its budget in favor of his own large infrastructure plans.
When the President’s efforts to turn back past reforms were met with legal suspensions until Mexico’s Supreme Court issues its final judgement, he said a constitutional change was worth considering. Nevertheless, with the coalition’s lead in the lower house dwindling and previously scrambling opposition parties returning to the limelight, such fundamental changes appear to be unlikely. In a referendum on the 4T’s policy direction, many Mexicans appeared to have braved the COVID-19 pandemic to ask Mexico’s government for a more nuanced direction moving forward. Mexico City especially used to be akin to a home base for the coalition, but saw voters largely look to other parties to voice discontent.
López Obrador nodded to the results during Monday morning’s press conference, praising Mexico for it increased political maturity and the “free and clean” election process. Only 30 of of over 130,000 voting locations were unable to open due to a variety of incidents, some of which involving violence, theft of voting materials and threats. Nonetheless, violence disrupted many political campaigns in the country, with 36 candidates on mostly local levels murdered before the elections took place.