Assessing Mexico's Mid-term Election Results
Mexico's mid-term elections on June 7th sent mixed messages to the Mexican people with the first-ever appointment of an independent gubernatorial candidate, Jaime Rodriguez Calderon (aka "El Bronco"). While the dominant parties–President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and National Action Party (PAN)—once again won the most seats, they lost some ground to emerging opposition groups.
But beyond giving way to a fresh political party, the race was seen more as a protest against party politics in an election tarnished with bouts of violence.
On June 16th, Prosek Partners, in partnership with the Mexican Chamber of Commerce in New York, hosted an event in New York City that opened a discussion to experts on Mexico's political, economic, and media landscape. Panelists Maria Hinojosa, Host of NPR's Latino USA; Daniel Bases, Senior Correspondent at Thomson Reuters; and Rafael de la Fuente, Chief Latin American Economist for UBS, shared their views on the election results from a U.S. perspective.
Initial themes throughout the conversation touched on the ongoing violence, insecurity, and corruption in the Mexican government. Panel participants were pleased to report corruption has been down recently, but acknowledged that large-scale challenges do remain.
Public office electoral races in Mexico have rarely gone unscathed from violent threats and outright murders by gangs, opponents, and rivaling parties. This year, as many as three candidates and over a dozen people were killed in the days leading up to the election. On Sunday morning, activists burned dozens of ballot boxes in the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca.
Yet despite this ongoing brutality, Mexico is still regarded as a source of progress among Latin America and in relation to the U.S., and panelists remain optimistic about its future—inflation is at an all-time low, the consumer sector is growing, and Mexico has experienced a 1.5-2% increase in wages. What will be most pivotal in effecting sustained change is the country's fiscal improvement and responsibility. The Mexican government made a commitment to cut spending, and following through agenda they've designed will be imperative for continued success. And, of course, the public is waiting to feel the impact of the highly-anticipated and much-discussed energy reforms.
While the U.S. media hailed Mexico's recent reforms, there is also concern over which storylines were suppressed in the scope of U.S. publications. With the growing Latino population in the U.S., many wonder if Mexican-Americans are steering farther from their roots, which might be aided by the U.S. media glossing over the gravity of the more serious developments in Mexico. Furthermore, social media has become an emerging presence within Mexico's political atmosphere, raising the question of whether this will increase visibility of important but suppressed issues, or create more clutter within our public discourse.
While many emerging markets experience their share of political and economic difficulties, the panelists agreed there is much hope for Mexico. They summarized interest from foreign investors, a burgeoning social media presence, and an evolving political structure. They were confident these are factors which will allow Mexico to weather the ongoing storm, and emerge strong after the recent elections.