PRI regains House of Representatives

President Felipe Calderón’s National Action Party suffered a heavy defeat in the legislative elections on July 5, 2009.

President Felipe Calderón’s National Action Party suffered a heavy defeat in the legislative elections on July 5, 2009.

Julieta Gutiérrez

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – The opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which many thought was nearly dead just a few years ago, regained the majority of seats in the House of Representatives in the midterm legislative elections held on July 5 in Mexico. This leaves President Felipe Calderón and his ruling National Action Party (PAN) at a disadvantage during the second half of his presidency.

In the elections to renew the 500 seats of the House of Representatives, the PRI obtained 36.5 percent of the vote (233 seats) while the PAN obtained 27.9 percent of the vote (146 representatives), reported Reforma. Meanwhile, the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) received just 12.2 percent of the vote (72 seats) and the Ecologist Green Party received 7.7 percent (22 places).

Reuters reported that the new distribution of representatives threatens negotiations on structural reforms in Congress, forcing Calderón to negotiate with a larger bloc of opposition representatives.

The national president of the PRI, Beatriz Paredes, celebrated the absolute majority in the House on W Radio, as well as the six state governors elected on the day (Campeche, Colima, Nuevo León, Sonora, Querétaro and San Luis Potosí), which join the other 18 states in the hands of the PRI out of the total of 32 in the country.

The PRI has learned from its errors and has corrected itself, Paredes told local media Monday, referring to the decades-long dominance the PRI enjoyed until the 2000 elections brought the PAN to power nationally for the first time since 1929. During that time, reports AP, the PRI developed a reputation for corruption, vote fraud and economic mismanagement.

Calderón expressed his “full willingness to negotiate with the new representatives in order to overcome the challenges in Mexico,” and said to El Universal, “It is fundamental that the executive and the legislature work together to consolidate the state’s finances.

Jaime Cárdenas, a researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said to the BBC, “The main objective of the parties is to win the country’s presidency in 2012, and control of Congress in essential to that end.”

Reuters reported that Calderón’s government is attempting to promote a number of structural reforms, including a far-reaching energy law and a new labor law, but most important is a fiscal plan to increase tax revenue and reduce the state’s dependence on oil exports.

The elections were marked by high levels of abstention, accounting for almost 60 percent of voters, and 11 out of every 100 voters spoiled their ballots, according to official statistics. Reforma reported that more than 77 million Mexicans were eligible to vote on Sunday, and more than 139,000 polling stations were installed.

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