Mexican president keeps Congress but loses shine in the mid-term vote
Early results showed that Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador retained control of Congress in mid-term elections on Sunday, but suffered losses to an opposition seeking to capitalize on dissatisfaction with his record on the economy and fighting crime.
The National Electoral Institute (INE) predicted Lopez Obrador’s ruling coalition would win between 265 and 292 of the 500 lower house seats, falling short of the two-thirds majority he achieved in the first half of his term.
The result was roughly in line with opinion polls, which showed the race tightening in the final weeks as a deadly metro accident in Mexico City and accusations that Lopez Obrador had intervened excessively in the campaign weakened his appeal.
Lopez Obrador has slammed his predecessors as corrupt and beholden to corporate interests, who have only served to exacerbate poverty, inequality, and violence. However, he has struggled to meet pledges to combat gang violence and boost anaemic growth.
“We need a government that is more open to what business proposes,” said Enrique Prendas, 56, a resident of Mexico City who voted for Lopez Obrador in 2018 but switched to the center-right National Action Party this time (PAN).
Lopez Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) entered the election with 253 seats in the lower house, but is expected to win between 190 and 203 seats, according to INE projections.
In September, the new lower house will be seated.
According to a preliminary count of 58 percent of ballots, MORENA and its allies received 42.3 percent of the votes cast for the lower house. The main opposition alliance trailed with 40.7 percent.
MORENA’s individual tally was significantly higher than that of its nearest rival, giving it a clear advantage in securing seats from the 300 available under a first-past-the-post system. Proportional representation is used to allocate the remaining 200 house seats.
MORENA will rely on votes from the Labor Party (PT) and the Green Party to defend its majority, a political grouping that has proven adept at forging alliances with whoever is in power.
Lower house losses should limit Lopez Obrador’s ability to pursue constitutional changes to support his efforts to tighten state control of the energy sector, among other priorities.
Nonetheless, many preliminary vote tallies indicated that MORENA had a successful election, winning the majority of the 15 state governorships up for grabs and expanding the party’s footprint across the country.
The Mexican capital was an exception.
Since his ascension to national prominence as mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, Lopez Obrador has relied heavily on the city. However, preliminary results indicated that MORENA had lost control of a number of the capital’s 16 boroughs, which it had previously dominated.
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