See the comments for some updates on the preliminary seat totals.
According to preliminary results, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has won the most votes and seats in the midterm Chamber of Deputies election.
Turnout was around 45%, which is higher than at the last (2003) midterm election, despite a “null vote” protest movement. (Null votes themselves were about 5% of total votes cast, which was barely any larger than in 2003.)
This is the
firstsecond time in Mexico that a party other than that of the President will have the plurality of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. (Thanks to Manuel, below, for the correction.)
The PRI has not won enough votes to qualify for a majority of seats, as Mexican electoral law prohibits a party from having more than an 8-percentage point over-representation. The PRI has a preliminary total of 36.2% of the vote.
Thus it will not be divided government in the narrow sense of majority opposition, unless the PRI and other parties cooperate after the election to control the Chamber in opposition to the President. That is possible, but I would think unlikely.
The National Action Party (PAN) of current President Felipe Calderon is a distant second, at 28.0%. At about 5 percentage points, this is not much of a midterm decline for the incumbent party, and it is about 3 percentage points worse than its 2003 votes result. However, given the large boost the electoral system and three-way competition in the single-seat-district tier gave the party in 2006 (when it won about 41% of seats), it will likely have suffered a bigger decline in seats.
The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) did quite badly, with only 12.2%, or barely more than a third of the votes that it won in 2006 when it narrowly lost the presidency.
The Green Party, which is an ally of the PRI, has 6.5%. These two parties had a partial pre-electoral coalition, running jointly nominated candidates in 63 of the 300 single-seat districts, but separate party lists for the “parallel” tier of 200 proportional list seats (as well as, of course, separate candidates in the other 237 single-seat districts). While seats totals are not yet reported (as far as I know), it is unlikely that these two parties would have a joint majority, despite 43% of the votes, as the Greens presumably have won no single-seat districts (outside of coalition districts, where they might have helped the PRI fend off another party’s candidate). I wonder if there will prove to have been districts where the PRI and Greens running separately might have “spoiled” a chance at a PRI win. Perhaps the parties’ pre-electoral strategy was sufficiently targeted to have avoided such an outcome.
The electoral law, and changes made in 2008 (see explanation by Manuel in the previous thread), permit parties to have their separate ballot symbols in districts where they have a joint candidacy. Because there is no separate vote for the list tier, this is important to parties in a coalition: they can still collect their separate PR seats despite the common candidacies. However, any pre-electoral coalition is bound to lose some votes for one of the parties from voters who dislike the partner (or its candidate in the district). Presumably this is why the parties ran separate candidates in the vast majority of districts.
The smaller Workers Party (PT), however, ran a coalition in all 300 districts with the Convergencia. And here I need some more help on how the new electoral law works. These two parties are shown having 3.6% (PT) and 2.4% (Convergencia) for their separate ballot symbols and 0.2% for the coalition, per se. So do voters have the choice of endorsing the coalition as a whole or choosing one of the component parties? Obviously any of these options would be a vote for the candidate in the given district, but how are list votes calculated in the case of voting for the coalition? (For the record, the PRI-Green coalition obtained 0.4% in addition to the separate votes by party reported above). (Again, Manuel to the rescue in the comments!)
Despite all the talk of a “comeback” by the PRI, this result is roughly the same as its performance in the last midterm election, 2003. Maybe 35-38% is just the party’s “natural” level of support in Mexico’s new democratic era. Of course, it does look like a comeback from its dismal third-place showing in 2006, but even then its congressional vote was only about eight percentage points worse than its showing in the current election. That is well within normal election-to-election variation in democracies–especially in presidential systems, where every legislative election takes place in the context of voter evaluations of the parties’ presidential candidates, or of the incumbent president. In the concurrent election of 2006, the PRI suffered defections due to an unusually strong PRD presidential candidate who was the main challenger to the PAN. The PRI also had an extremely weak candidate of its own in 2006: Roberto Madrazo, one of the ultimate “PRIosaurs.”
The PRI thus remains about where it has been since 2000: the pivot party in congress, with a strong regional base (having won most of the governor races in recent years including apparently four of the six up yesterday). Yet it remains a party that will need a very good candidate in 2012 if it is to reach the 40% range that will likely be needed to win back the presidency if the PRD does not make it another strong showing three-way race.