The triumph of PAN in a state where it has governed since 1989 may forestall its further disintegration. The party ruled Mexico for 12 years but lost the presidency in 2012. It has faced internal battles that are less about ideology than about money, power and the legacy of former President Felipe Calderon.
PAN candidates also won city halls in Mexicali, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, all major border cities, but lost broadly in other cities in the border states of Chihuahua and Tamaulipas.
The ruling PRI took city halls in Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Reynosa (other large border cities), as well as capturing Oaxaca City and unseating the PRD in Cancun.
The renewed viability of the PAN may make it a more reliable partner in months ahead as Pena Nieto forges ahead with reforms.
“I reiterate the unchanging disposition of the government to continue the dialogue and the accords with political forces to bring about the reforms that will not only permit us to consolidate our democracy but to accelerate its development,” Pena Nieto said Monday.
In the internal disputes cleaving the PAN, Madero leads a faction more prone to reform, while supporters of Calderon have been intent on winning the reins of the party at the expense of other factors. Had the PAN lost Baja California, Madero’s tenure as chief would have been weakened, and the future of the pact cloudier.
“It would be harder to keep the pact going without Madero,” Weldon said.
Pena Nieto’s party needs the support of the rightist opposition for an opening of the state-owned oil and gas sector to foreign investment, an idea that is anathema to the political left. Petroleos Mexicanos, the state oil giant, provides a third of government operating revenues. But its production has fallen in recent years amid projections Mexico could become a net oil importer by 2018.
Weariness with corruption in politics was among the factors keeping six out of 10 eligible voters away from the polls Sunday.
It also gave rise to satiric, fake candidacies. Among them: Morris the Cat ran for mayor of Xalapa in Veracruz state, pledging on his Facebook page, which gathered 155,000 followers, to “rest and romp” like regular politicians.
News reports say he may have garnered 8 percent of the vote in Xalapa.