Author`s name Margarita Kicherova

Mexico Elections: Fox at the Mercy of the Opposition

President Fox's conservative party lost midterm Congressional elections. The powerful PRI now controls the lower house, as the center-left PRD won in the capital city

Mexico's ruling National Action Party, or PAN, suffered a heavy blow in Sunday’s midterm legislative elections, and it is now a minority in the powerful lower chamber. According to the last reports, the former hegemonic Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, obtained 34.4 percent of the votes, leaving PAN with 30.5 percent, and the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, with a significant 20% and a spectacular victory in the 20 million the capital city.


As such, PAN lost around 50 seats in the Congress, as the PRI added 20 to lead the lower chamber by 70 seats. However, in a poll that registered Mexico's highest level of abstention -in the region of 60%, according to reports-, the center-left PRD became the third force by duplicating its number of seats.


Now, President Vicente Fox will have to face his last three years in office with a Congress controlled by the opposition and a renewed PRI. The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled the country for 71 years before Fox toppled it, has shown that is still the major political force in the North American country.


According to observers, Fox needed to take control of the 500-seat lower house of Congress at the mid-term polls to help him push through liberalizing economic reforms, blocked by the opposition since he came to office in 2000. A weakened PAN is, therefore, a serious setback for such reforms and a turning point in government's line.


"It is time to intensify the path to agreement and to cooperation. The voters' will is clear," Fox said in a televised address after results were announced. Fox took power three years ago amid great enthusiasm, after 71 years of one-party ruling, but as the 61-year-old former Coca Cola CEO failed in pushing reforms to reactivate an economy in standstill for three years. 


On the other hand, Sunday elections made clear that the leftist PRD is country's third force and an ineludible source of power in the country. Moreover, its overwhelming victory in Mexico DF, where obtained the absolute majority in the legislature, leaves the door open for better results in the forthcoming elections that will pave the way for the next president after Fox.


Fox's PAN also lost 4 of 6 state governor elections, including the rich industrial northern State of Nueva Leon, a former Fox stronghold. PRI candidates also won in Campeche, Colima y Sonora, as PAN retained Queretaro and San Luis de Potosi. "Today our party has won an important victory. Today we confirm that we are still the number one political force in the country," PRI leader Roberto Madrazo, told a news conference quoted by Reuters.


Fox's agenda to revert initial disappointments in office is now in danger. The ruling party will have to negotiate with the opposition those crucial laws to take country's economy out of recession. Fox is at the mercy of the opposition.



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