July 11, 2006


Mexico conservatives biggest party in new Congress (Reuters)

Mexico's ruling conservative party won enough seats in the July 2 election to be the biggest party in the next Congress, although it will not have an overall majority, final results showed on Sunday. [...]

Calderon's National Action Party, or PAN, won 33.39 percent of seats in the 500-seat lower house of deputies, the IFE electoral authority said late on Sunday.

The left-wing Party for the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, came in second with 28.99 percent of the lower house, and the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, that is the biggest party in the outgoing Congress came third with 28.21 percent.

The PRI's weight in the current Congress has prevented Fox from pushing through the tax, labor and energy sector reforms that foreign analysts say Mexico needs.

...the conservatves win down ticket too.


Edging to the Right (Michael Barone, 7/10/06, Real Clear Politics)

The apparent victory of Felipe Calderon, the candidate of incumbent President Vicente Fox's PAN party in Mexico, is the latest in a series of defeats for the hard left in Latin American elections. It also means there will continue to be a trio of center-right North American governments. Leftist Evo Morales, with help from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, did win in Bolivia, but Chavez's candidate lost in Peru, center-right incumbent Alvaro Uribe won re-election by a huge margin in Colombia, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, former Mexico City mayor and candidate of the leftist PRD party, lost after leading in the polls for most of the past two years. The cry has been going up that the "Washington consensus" favoring free trade and free markets is dead in the region. But that consensus is not threatened by responsible center-left presidents like Lula da Silva of Brazil and Michelle Bachelet of Chile. And the defeat of Lopez Obrador, who called for renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, shows it's still alive in Mexico.

That doesn't mean Calderon can solve all of Mexico's problems. His PAN will be the largest party in the Congreso but without a majority in either house. For one thing, oil production will most likely continue to lag if PRI, the ruling party from 1929 to 2000, keeps joining PRD in resisting any change in the monopoly status of government-owned Pemex. Government corruption and urban crime will probably persist. But Mexico's economy, in tandem with ours thanks to NAFTA, is now growing robustly, inflation is low, and there has been no peso devaluation since 1994. And in the Congreso, legislators may be developing the knack of compromise and negotiation that was never necessary when they were just rubber stamps for PRI presidents.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 11, 2006 8:10 AM
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