Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 11/14/2011
The PRI emerges victorious from the last night’s close Michoacán gubernatorial election (November 13th). Meanwhile, the Mexican government launched an investigation into the helicopter crash that killed Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora and seven others on November 12th. The PRD is set to release the results of the opinion polls conducted to determine its candidate on November 15th, and Enrique Peña Nieto begins his visit to Washington, DC.
The Michoacán Election
With 99.03 percent of votes counted, the Preliminary Elections Results Program (PREP) declared Fausto Vallejo of the PRI the winner of last night’s Michoacán gubernatorial election. All three candidates for governor had claimed victory on Sunday night, as the front runners appeared to be in a dead heat in polls, but by Monday morning Vallejo was nearly three percentage points ahead of Luisa María Calderón (35.38 to 32.66 percent). The PRD’s Silvano Aureoles trailed with 28.91 percent.
The tight election was closely watched as an indicator of next year’s presidential race. The PRI victory boosts momentum in this last state election before the 2012 presidential contest, and deprives the PAN of a symbolic victory in President Calderón’s home state. Luisa María Calderón had promised to continue her brother’s fight against organized crime in the state where he launched his assault against the drug cartels in 2006. The PRD, previously dominant in the state for ten years, had faced “criticism for the state’s drug violence, and some of its legislative candidates were accused of having close ties to drug cartels” in the lead-up to the election, according to The Washington Post.
There were fears some of this violence would affect the election, but overall the vote went relatively smoothly. A note in the city of La Piedad, 11 days after the mayor, Ricardo Guzmán, was killed while canvassing for several PAN candidates, warned voters to avoid wearing T-shirts or PAN advertisements “because we don’t want to confuse you and have innocent people die.” In the rural city of Cheran, residents “refused to let poll workers into their town amid demands for an election that they said would respect their customs and traditions. The indigenous Purépecha people who live in Cheran have in recent months wielded rifles and mounted roadblocks keeping out suspected illegal loggers and drug traffickers.” Elsewhere, the election apparently went smoothly.
The Mexican government is investigating the helicopter crash that killed Interior Ministor Francisco Blake Mora and seven others on November 12th, which has so far been called an accident. Blake was the face of President Calderón’s fight against organized crime, and is the second interior minister in the administration to die in an aviation accident. Juan Camilo Mourino died in a plane crash in Mexico City three years ago, along with former President Vicente Fox’s top prosecutor against organized crime, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos. The accident was attributed to pilot error.
The PRD plans release the results of the polls conducted to determine its presidential candidate by November 15th. Two polling firms carried out interviews with six-thousand members of the general population the weekend of November 5th (more information on this process can be found here). Roy Campos, the director of the Mitofsky polling firm, has an interesting editorial in El Economista about the process itself, and the three possible scenarios likely to come out of it.
Enrique Peña Nieto begins his visit to Washington, DC, meeting with academic, business, and policy communities at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and speaking at the National Press Club.