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AMLO and PRIAN faced each other at the polls and won, each one, the bare minimum. In fact, the Mexican elections had a certain anticlimatic touch: so many months of intensity and campaigning, so many speeches, so much expectation, so much mobilization, so many changes in the political landscape, and in the end, the gains and losses of the conflicting sides ended up balancing out.
On June 6, Mexicans went to vote in the largest, most important, and most crowded mid-term elections in the democratic history of the country, with a turnout that for the first time exceeded 50% of the electoral roll in elections where the president of the republic is not being renewed. Good for the citizens who voted, who set up the polls, counted the votes, and conducted the day in almost absolute tranquility, in contrast to the murders of more than 30 candidates during the campaign.
Initially, the polls showed a great triumph for the opposition, which swept the governorships and put the ruling majority in the Chamber of Deputies against the ropes. This was not the case. As the night progressed, the official results revealed a much more nuanced picture, where the PRIAN, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the satellite parties of Morena and Movimiento Ciudadano achieved the minimum necessary to boast a victory that in reality does not define anything.
What can AMLO and PRIAN take out of the results?
Within the opposition there are two blocks: The first is the PRIAN, which integrates the 3 traditional parties of the country (PRI, PAN and PRD) within the coalition “Va por México” (Going for Mexico). The second is Movimiento Ciudadano, a party that, in reality, operates as a federation of regional chiefdoms under a shared brand.
The PRIAN wins the indispensable minimum because its coalition managed to work reasonably well and allowed them to reposition themselves in the Chamber of Deputies, where they will occupy almost 200 of the 500 seats. This is more than enough to force AMLO to negotiate with them any attempt of constitutional reform.
The PRIAN also scored a resounding victory by snatching a large part of the Mexico City metropolitan area from Morena. For the first time in 20 years, Obradorism will not have absolute control of the capital city, which used to be the great platform of support for the current president.
However, in the rest of the country, the panorama was much less flattering. The PRIAN won only 1 of the 15 governorships that were renewed yesterday (Chihuahua), plus Querétaro, which the PAN won without the need of an alliance. While the PRI put at stake a dozen of its governorships and lost them all. A historic collapse.
At the end of the day, the election provides the PRIAN with the indispensable minimum to demonstrate the viability of its coalition and save the necks of its party leaders, with a view to perfecting a more solid alliance for the 2024 elections, because if anything is clear, neither the PAN nor the PRI are competitive alone and if they want to be taken seriously for the general elections, they will have to compete together. And the PRD will have to join them, because if it competes alone, it will disappear.
On the other side of the opposition, Movimiento Ciudadano (MC) wins the minimum necessary because it maintains its bench in the Chamber of Deputies, preserved its dominance over the Guadalajara metropolitan area and won the governorship of Nuevo Leon.
However, it did not grow enough in the rest of the country to become the new opposition referent. It failed resoundingly in Mexico City, where it had staked its leadership and hopes. Therefore, they will continue to be a federation of strongmen, which is almost irrelevant outside Guadalajara and Monterrey.
Worse still, Samuel García will become governor of Nuevo León, but he will not have the support of a majority of his own in the local Congress, almost condemning him to repeat the failure of the current governor, Jaime Rodríguez “el Bronco” -who, like Samuel, was elected on the basis of his charisma- but was shipwrecked because he lacked political support.
AMLO dawned on June 6 at an intermediate point between the first and the second scenario that we proposed last week. Morena wins the bare minimum because it remains as the main force in the Chamber of Deputies and keeps — together with its allies — a majority comfortably above 50% of the seats.
This means that they will be able to continue protecting the Federal Government from any investigation regarding its bad administrative practices, they will continue approving President AMLO’s budget, without the need to negotiate it with the opposition, and they will be able to modify laws at whim, as long as they keep the loyalty of the satellite parties (Green Ecologist Party and Labor Party).
At the local level, Morena faces the extremely painful loss of its stronghold in Mexico City, but compensates the pain with the joy of renewing the governorship of Baja California and winning another 10. This provides AMLO with a wide landscape of bureaucratic plots to distribute positions and keep the groups that are part of the ruling party happy.
For their part, the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico and the Labor Party -Morena’s satellite parties- won the minimum necessary to maintain their relevance in the eyes of López Obrador. However, they are also well aware that their almost 80 federal deputies do not belong to them, but to AMLO.
Furthermore, they know that, without sharing candidates with Morena, they would be almost condemned to suffer extinction, that tragic fate that on June 6 suffered by the parties Encuentro Solidario, Fuerza por México, and Redes Sociales Progresistas, who obtained less than 3% of the vote and will lose their registration.
Towards the future, the minimum indispensable advance
Looking to the future, the correlation of political forces remains essentially the same as last week: AMLO is powerful but is now obliged to consolidate his regime through the democratic game. PRIAN has potential but is obliged to improve its messages and candidates, in addition to strengthening its coalition to be competitive in 2024. Movimiento Ciudadano as a third wheel focused on maintaining its regional fiefdoms while waiting to sell out definitively with one of the two big blocs. And the Green Ecologist Party is prepared to make the most of its alliance with AMLO.
In spite of everything, this time the minimum necessary has been enough for the country to overcome the electoral process, while AMLO and the PRIAN are happy to have bought a little more time to consolidate their political projects. On June 6, everyone’s victory consisted in demonstrating to the other that they are a force to be reckoned with. The rest is yet to happen.
Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”