Election in Mexico

About 2,000 Mexican nationals went to the Mexican Consulate in Fresno on June 2 to vote. However, only half of them were able to cast their votes. Photo by Eduardo Stanley
About 2,000 Mexican nationals went to the Mexican Consulate in Fresno on June 2 to vote. However, only half of them were able to cast their votes. Photo by Eduardo Stanley

What some polls predicted was confirmed on the night of June 2 when Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) confirmed the election of Claudia Sheinbaum, of the Morena (Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional, or National Regeneration Movement) party, to the presidency of Mexico. Sheinbaum, a scientist who was previously head of government of Mexico City, will assume the presidency on Oct. 1 and be the first woman to govern Mexico.

Particularly impressive was the large number of voters, both in Mexico and abroad: Of the 60,115,184 votes cast—61% of the electoral roll—Morena got 35,924,519 votes (59.75%), the PRI-PAN-PRD alliance got 16,502,697 (29.45%) and Movimiento Ciudadano got 6,204,710 (10.32%).

Sheinbaum won by a margin of more than 30 percentage points over the PRI-PAN-PRD alliance. She won 5 million more votes than Andrés Manuel López Obrador, creator of Morena, did six years ago. The new president will have a majority in Congress, and her party will control the majority of states.

“These elections were also a plebiscite for López Obrador…who will leave his post as one of the most popular presidents in Mexico and Latin America,” says Gaspar Rivera Salgado, program director of the UCLA Labor Center.

“Let’s not forget that in Mexico, seven parties competed—some formed alliances with each other—while in the U.S. there are two parties.

“The opposition to Morena was led by the PRI and PAN parties, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2018.” The PRI and PAN were joined by the PRD, a party that lost its registration after the election due to the few votes it received.

“Morena achieved its second presidential victory and its consolidation as the majority political force in just a decade,” said Rivera Salgado, an analyst of Mixtec origin. He adds that the internal process by Morena to select Sheinbaum as its candidate was democratic and included several recognized leaders with outstanding political and academic backgrounds.

The opposition, the PRI-PAN-PRD alliance, was never up to the task, exposing internal differences and presenting a candidate, Xochitl Gálvez, a former official of the Fox administration from 2003 to 2006, who often appeared erratic and unable to respond in debates or to citizen questions.

Two women competed for the presidency, in addition to Jorge Alvarez Maynez, of Movimiento Ciudadano.

“This should not surprise us,” says Rivera Salgado. “It is the result of the struggle of women and Mexican society to achieve gender parity in the political and social sphere.”

Rivera Salgado notes that there is another big difference between the U.S. and Mexican political systems. “The political and electoral process in Mexico is funded by the state through the INE, meaning that the state can pressure the parties in certain aspects. And a good example is that for a few years now, [the INE] has been pressuring the parties to advance in gender parity.”

This pressure from the state made the political parties include not only more women but also more Indigenous, disabled, LGBTQ+ and, more recently, immigrant voices, something that is difficult to see in the United States, where the parties are funded by donations, mainly from corporations.

“On election day, there was some uncertainty regarding the results,” notes Julio Ocaña Martínez, a writer from the state of Michoacán. “A lot of weight was given to the so-called undecided [voters], and it was said that they would decide the election. Even at the polling stations, it was striking to see so many people.

“Rumors circulated that Xóchitl Gálvez was winning…until the INE announced the initial preliminary results. Morena swept the board…For example, in Michoacán, [we] went from nine deputies to 21.”

The right wing, which supported the PRI-PAN-PRD alliance, was in a state of shock. They accused López Obrador of fraud and interference, and asked for a recount, which he granted. Ironically, not only was fraud not proven but also Morena increased its number of votes. The right wing in the United States is repeating the same accusations—and others, equally unfounded—that can be read in corporate newspapers such as the Washington Post and the New York Times.

“The right says that Morena won because of her support of the poor who receive government subsidies,” says Ocaña Martinez, “but that is not the case as Sheinbaum won in all social tiers.”

Moreover, the opposition candidate, Bertha Xóchitl Gálvez Ruiz, came across as rude, ornery and gaudy, as well as lacking ideas.

“People approve of what López Obrador is doing,” notes Ocaña Martinez, “and they support Sheinbaum because they know she will continue on that path.”

“The challenges for the future president? In my opinion, [those are] confronting the violence that exists in our society, reactivating small and medium-sized businesses and greatly improving the health system,” says Ocaña Martinez, adding that López Obrador’s obsession with controlling expenses has left the government’s departments and agencies with severely reduced budgets.

Mexicans abroad also voted massively, exceeding the INE’s expectations and leaving thousands of people unable to vote.

In Fresno, dozens of people got up early to go to the polls set up at the Mexican Consulate, located in the northern part of the city. Unfortunately, the disorganization prevented many from being able to vote.

“It was a very special day, the first time we could vote here—before we had to travel to Mexico—and this is the result of struggles and pressure to achieve this right,” says Myrna Martínez Nateras, director of the Pan Valley Institute in Fresno.

“What amazed me was not only the number of people but also the desire they had to vote. People came from Bakersfield, Porterville, Modesto, Visalia…I think about 2,000 people came, and there were barely 1,500 ballots.”

The process was slow and at the end of the day, only about 1,000 people had voted in Fresno. Frustrated, many shouted, “We want to vote,” and pressured for voting to continue after 5 p.m., but that did not happen.

“The people I spoke with told me that they were not going to vote for Xóchitl Gálvez because they did not want to go back to the dark times when the PRI governed and then the PAN—which was more of the same,” said Martínez Nateras.

“People are well informed and more politicized than many believe. They support the López Obrador government and now Sheinbaum, and they want her to push for more changes. And part of the change is that a woman is president; people expressed support for this idea.”

Martínez Nateras says that six years are not enough to push for social changes, and that is why the election of Sheinbaum is important to continue the changes initiated by López Obrador—and go further.

One issue that was rarely mentioned during the election campaign was immigration.

“We spent 4–5 hours at the Consulate to be able to vote—many did not make it. It means that there is a desire for change in Mexico and that we want to have a voice in those changes,” said Martínez Nateras. “We, immigrants, are a very important economic force, but also a political force. They cannot continue to ignore us, or misunderstand us. Sheinbaum mentioned migration in one of her speeches, but it is not enough, we have to have a space, a voice.”

In the United States, the vote was rather close: 191,000 Mexicans voted, with Morena receiving 91,000 votes versus 86,000 for the PRI-PAN-PRD alliance.

“Seeing and hearing the expressions of support for Sheinbaum, I find it hard to believe that the difference was so small,” says Agustín Durán, a Mexican journalist living in Los Angeles. He was one of hundreds of people who was unable to vote due to the large number of voters who showed up at the Mexican Consulate in Santa Ana.

Regarding the opposition’s attacks on Sheinbaum, saying that she will be manipulated by López Obrador, Durán says that it is part of an established narrative to discredit the future president.

“I think that Morena could not have chosen a better person to succeed the president than Sheinbaum,” says Durán, the metro editor of La Opinión, the daily Spanish newspaper in Los Angeles. “She comes with power, with great popular support. They want to discredit her, limit her power.

“Many of these opponents had subsidies from the PRI and PAN governments. When López Obrador arrived, he took them away and they began to complain. I would not doubt that they want, dream of returning to those times. 

“The president’s strong point was his honesty; in his administration there was not and there is no corruption. And we can say the same about Sheinbaum. This behavior brings support; it is great political capital.

“Let us not forget that López Obrador also implemented scholarships for students and subsidies for senior citizens, and increased the minimum wage…Socially, this had an impact on Mexico. Sheinbaum will continue on that path; she already announced it.”

Mexico is experiencing profound social and historical change. And millions of Mexicans support this change.


  • Eduardo Stanley

    Eduardo Stanley is the editor of the Community Alliance newspaper, a freelance journalist for several Latino media outlets and a Spanish-language radio show host at KFCF in Fresno. He is also a photographer. To learn more about his work, visit www.eduardostanley.com.

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