A map of how Mexico voted on Sunday is even more striking than those red-blue maps showing [the US] electoral divide. Relatively wealthy northern states that have prospered from business ties spanning the nearby US border went heavily for [Felipe] Calderon. The poor, distant, left-out southern states went for AMLO [Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador], as did metropolitan Mexico City, where AMLO has served as mayor.Felipe Calderon, who campaigned on the pledge, ‘Let’s have six more years of hoping free-market reforms trickle down to Mexico’s poor,' has been declared the official winner.
--Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, July 7
Amlo is hotly contesting the tally, of course. It will be settled in the court by September 6 or maybe sooner if Amlo calms down and puts on his thinking cap. The narrowness of Calderon's victory (he won by 35.88%, Amlo won by 35.31%) puts Amlo in a great position to wring concessions out of Mexico’s hopelessly corrupt ruling party.
Already Calderon has felt constrained to offer Amlo a position in the new Cabinet, which underscores Calderon's weak victory. And even after the court rubberstamps the official tally, Mexico’s Congress will still be sharply divided. That observation cuts both ways; there is no question that the majority of Mexico’s middle- and upper class prefer six more years of the known rather than Amlo’s left-leaning populist reforms. So there are advantages for Amlo in being the narrow loser.
All this begs the question: Who is the clearest winner in Mexico’s election? To be kind, one might say “Democracy,” because this presidential election is a big improvement over the last and an impressive 59% Mexicans voted.
But the biggest winners are the banks and companies that charge fees for handling remittance payments from Mexicans working in the USA.
Yet many workers, who send money to relatives back home who've not seen the benefits of Fox's free market reforms, were unable to vote in Mexico’s presidential election. That's because the border-town polls were overwhelmed by the large number of US-based Mexicans who tried to vote.
From anecdotal accounts, the poorest Mexican workers who descended on the border-town polls were voting for Amlo or trying to. Or to be more precise, they were voting to throw out Calderon’s corrupt political party.
If all the US-based Mexicans who tried to vote for Amlo could have done so, would that have given Amlo the quarter million votes he needed to tie or beat Calderon? It certainly would have made Calderon’s victory even narrower.
But then we have to remember that this is Mexico we’re talking about. The ruling class there is still firmly in charge. So, not surprisingly, PAN picked up more congressional seats in the election:
Fox's Party Gains in Mexico Congress, Universal Reports
July 4 - (Bloomberg) -- Mexican President Vicente Fox's National Action Party overtook the Institutional Revolutionary Party as the biggest seat-holder in Congress in the July 2 elections, Universal reported.
Fox's party gained 62 seats in the 500-seat lower house for a total of 210 and six seats in the 128-member Senate, for a total of 53. The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for seven decades before Fox's 2000 election win, lost 90 seats in the lower house for a total of 113 and 21 seats in the Senate for a total of 37, Universal said.
The figures indicate the National Action Party has the most seats in the both houses of Congress. The Party of The Democratic Revolution has the second-most seats in the lower house and the same number of seats as the Institutional Revolutionary Party in the Senate, Universal said. [...]