Mexico’s local elections yesterday, which were marked by the most violent campaign period the country has seen in years, ended with tentatively positive news for the fragile agreement between the three main Mexican political parties.
On Sunday, 14 of Mexico’s 32 held elections for a range of local positions, including mayors, city councilmen and state legislators. Only one governor’s seat was up for grabs, in the border state of Baja California. This race gained considerable media coverage, as it featured a close election between the National Action Party (PAN), which has held the state since 1989, and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). As the L.A. Times noted on Saturday, defeat in the state could deal a “potentially irreparable blow” to the conservative PAN, which has become plagued by disorganization and infighting in recent years.
However, it seems it was able to hold on to the state with the help of an alliance with the leftist Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD), the other main opposition party. El Universal’s Red Politica reports that the joint PAN-PRD candidate beat the PRI rival by 47 percent to 44 percent, with 94 percent of ballots counted. Unfortunately Animal Politico notes that both sides have declared victory, which may ultimately force a recount.
The initial results are good news for the opposition, but also positive for the Pact for Mexico, the accord reached in December between PRI, PAN and PRD leaders to cooperate on 95 general points. The pact has been credited with easing the passage of recent education and labor laws, and makes President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ambitious reform agenda possible.
In recent months the accord has come under fire from both the PAN and PRD, which have threatened to abandon it. After it emerged that PRI officials in Veracruz state had used public funds to support candidates there, the PAN added anti-corruption measures to its conditions of adherence to the pact. The PRD is against Peña Nieto’s plan to end national oil company PEMEX’s monopoly on oil production in the country, which endangers its participation in the pact. Because of these factors, Reuters reports that a victory for the PAN/PRD in Baja California is ultimately more useful to the president than a win for his own PRI party.
Meanwhile, the run up to Sunday’s vote featured some of the worst election-related violence Mexico has seen in years. At least six local candidates have been killed since February, and a number of other campaign and party officials have also been attacked during this time as well, the New York Times reports. On Friday, a PRD mayoral campaign manager was killed in the northern state of Zacatecas, according to the AFP.
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- El Nacional reports that Maduro announced a shake up of Venezuela’s military command on Friday, naming the country’s first female Defense Minister, Admiral Carmen Melendez.
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- IPS has an interesting analysis of the fading protests in Brazil, which began as a non-political movement, have begun to be co-opted by traditionally leftist networks and groups like the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST).
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