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Initial results indicate that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party and its allies appear poised to maintain their majority in Mexico’s lower house of Congress.
Only 41 percent of the ballots were counted late Sunday, but the electoral administration released “quick tally” results based on sample votes that assess voting trends to determine the approximate potential composition of the Chamber of Deputies.
Morena López Obrador’s party would have to rely on the votes of its Labor Party and Green Party allies, but together they would have to occupy between 265 and 292 seats in the 500-seat chamber. Morena alone was expected to receive 190 to 203 seats.
Even without López Obrador on the ballot, the midterm elections were seen by many as a referendum on his administration and his ability to continue what he calls Mexico’s “fourth transformation”. Midterm turnout was high, exceeding 50 percent of eligible voters.
López Obrador’s critics described the election as a chance to prevent the still popular president from concentrating more power and weakening checks and balances. The president said the opposition is dominated by conservatives who oppose his campaign against corruption and wasteful spending.
Lopez Obrador has complained about courts and independent regulators that have blocked some of his tougher proposals to empower state-owned enterprises. Opponents warned that if he won a majority, he could try to subjugate the courts and regulators created during Mexico’s decades-long transition to full democracy.
Following the closure of polling stations, the president of the National Electoral Institute, Lorenzo Cordova, declared the elections a success. According to him, only 30 out of more than 130,000 polling stations across the country were unable to open due to various circumstances.
Half of these undisclosed polling stations were in the southern state of Oaxaca, where voting materials were stolen or damaged, the institute’s executive secretary, Edmundo Jacobo, said Sunday evening.
Representatives of the main parties who spoke at the general council of the electoral institute welcomed the holding of Sunday’s voting amid the pandemic, despite noting that the preparations for the vote were one of the most brutal in recent years.
For most of the campaign, the days leading up to the vote were marked by violence. On Saturday, a Chiapas state attorney’s office official, who was not allowed to be quoted, said five people who were carrying voting materials to polling stations were ambushed and killed on a rural highway. The victims turned out to be volunteers, not civil servants.
Three dozen candidates have been killed to date, mostly for local positions, and on Friday a government election agency official was shot dead in the state of Tlaxcala, near Mexico City.
Fifteen of the country’s 32 state governors were at stake. Nearly 20,000 local posts, including mayors and city council seats, were settled in 30 states, and these were often the races hardest hit by the violence.
Experts said criminal groups sought to influence the election, while the government attributed most of the killings to other issues and said they were not necessarily election-related.
The country’s electoral body said the elections will be one of the most thorough in history, with more than 19,000 registered observers, and that violence in the polling stations themselves is relatively rare.
Lopez Obrador has raised the minimum wage and strengthened government assistance programs such as supplementary payments for the elderly, students, and youth education programs. He also created a quasi-military National Guard and gave the army a huge role in building his favorite projects, including trains, an oil refinery, and airports.
But he did not adhere to the traditional leftist line. He maintained a friendly, albeit sometimes stressful, relationship with the United States and willingly helped keep tens of thousands of Central American migrants away from the US border. He hates government debt or waste.
Opponents portray him as intolerant of criticism and obsessed with a nostalgic vision for Mexico in the 1960s, when oil was king and state-owned companies dominated many sectors of the economy. Socially conservative and professing Christianity “in the broadest sense”, he angered feminists with his policies, but delighted many Mexicans with his strict life.
The elections represent the first massive public events since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country more than a year ago, although the number of cases has dropped and Mexico has vaccinated about a quarter of its adults. The estimated 350,000 deaths from the pandemic – about 230,000 of them confirmed by tests – have not played a big role in the campaigns, but may affect the minds of voters.
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