Incumbent’s party leads narrow, disputed race in Mexico

This time, the partisan tables are turned. Unlike the narrow, disputed presidential contest, the PRD is the incumbent party in the state of Chiapas. The PRD’s candidate, Juan Sabines Guerrero, is holding a razor-thin lead over Jose Antonio Aguilar Bodegas, the candidate of the PRI, with PAN tactical support, in Sunday’s gubernatorial election.

According to the Instituto Electoral Estatal (you must go to their website and see the silly graphics!), as of the time of this planting, the PREP shows the PRD candidate ahead by 0.22 percentage points, or 2,405 votes.


The bar on the left (albeit not ideologically) represents the PAN candidate, registered before the party opted to back the PRI candidate in attempt to oust the PRD from the governorship. The PRD candidate, Sabines, defected from the PRI only in recent months and is the son of a former governor. As George Grayson notes in the just-linked El Universal English story from 18 August, Chiapas has been the scene of some interesting shifting party alliances:

[Current governor Pablo] Salazar narrowly beat the PRI candidate in 2000 thanks to a PRD-PAN-PT-PVEM-Convergencia coalition, and could not muster support for his preferred successor Rubén Velásquez.

In the spring, he was eager to support a PRI nominee, and he and party envoy Tomás Yarrington agreed that Sabines would be the ideal choice. [National PRI leader and presidential candidate Roberto] Madrazo initially gave the thumbs up to Sabines on ly to infuriate local leaders by shifting to Aguilar.

That’s ancient history. Sunday’s gubernatorial election represents a continuation of the July 2 presidential conflict. Last weekend, López Obrador left the encampments of Mexico City to barnstorm on behalf of Sabines.

The need for the PAN’s Felipe Calderón–the apparent narrow victor in the national presidential election–to develop a good relationship with the PRI for “governability” reasons is behind the PAN’s throwing its support to Aguilar in Chiapas. Grayson again:

To propitiate PRI legislators, Calderón’s PAN — in a move spearheaded by teachers union boss and Chiapanecan Elba Esther Gordillo — has extended a helping hand to the PRI. Specifically, they have convinced the gubernatorial aspirants of the PAN (Francisco Rojas) and the Gordillo-controlled Panal (Emilio Zebadúa — Gov. Salazar’s former government secretary and a strong PRD pre-candidate) to step aside in favor of Aguilar Bodegas, who already enjoyed the endorsement of the PVEM [Green Party].

Ah, the confluence of nested games and Duverger!

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