The former ruling party triumphs, but without the majority it had hoped for
Jul 7th 2012 | MEXICO CITY
THE band that struck up jolly music to greet Enrique Peña Nieto as president-elect probably had not bothered to practise any of its downbeat numbers. Mr Peña, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), had long been the favourite and went into the election on July 1st leading by double figures in most polls. Sure enough he won, restoring to office the party that ran Mexico for seven decades until 2000. But his victory was slimmer than expected, and the PRI was denied a majority in Congress. Indeed, it appeared that the party had lost seats in the lower house. Voters are clearly not ready to hand the former ruling party free rein.
It was a good night for the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and its allies, whose presidential candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, came within 6.6 percentage points of Mr Peña, less than half the predicted gap. His coalition will form the biggest opposition block in Congress's lower house. Of the five state governorships up for grabs the PRD lost one but took control of two, including Tabasco, which the PRI had run for more than 80 years. The PRI still controls most of Mexico's 31 states (see map). The result was dismal for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), which was pushed into third place for the first time since 1988.