Mexico Elections, a Blow by the Workers Against the Government

This article, from Mexican Marxist paper Militante, analyses the July 6, 1997 elections in Mexico, explains the importance of the PRD victory in Mexico and the fact that the PRI lost control of the Congress. July 9, 1997.

The PRD wins in the most industrialised area of the country

On July 6 Mexico held elections to elect a third of the Senate, the Deputies Congress and, most important of all the election for the first time of the Mayor of the Federal District.

This is the first time in its 700 years of history that Mexico City elected its own governor, and it is also the first time in this century that the PRI (the Revolutionary Institutional Party ruling the country since 1929) did not get an absolute majority in the Congress.

The PRD (the left wing opposition Democratic Revolution Party) got 70 MPs and almost the same number of votes at a national level as the right wing PAN (National Action Party) with 26% of the votes. The PRI loses the absolute majority of the Congress with 38% of the votes, and the PAN fell to 27/28% of the votes, down from more than 30% in 1994.

The most important result is the overwhelming victory of the PRD, supported by the working class, in the Federal District, not only winning the mayor position but also all federal and local deputies. This is the biggest victory for the party and a clear indication of the aspirations of the workers for change.

On the other hand the process of weakening of the PRI continues. An unequivocal symptom of the end of the regime is the increasing rottenness of the men and women who have been in power for years, now increasingly resorting to deceits, lies, and murders amongst the different faction of the ruling elite.

But the defeat of the PRI cannot only be explained on the basis of a series of mistakes and wrong speeches. One of the main root causes for its fall is the economic situation, completely stagnant since 1995 as far as the home market is concerned (according to the supermarket chain owners, their sales have fallen by 22% in 1997), while the companies linked to exports, which had made some progress, see how the contraction of the US internal market threatens their recovery. Therefore, three years of asking the workers for sacrifices while big businessmen and bankers enrich themselves explain the extent of the vote against the PRI.

Another factor was the deep crisis of official trade unionism after the death of Fidel Velazquez, its historic leader who was at the head of the confederation for 60 years. Obviously this had a certain effect in reducing the ability of the official unions to force workers to vote for the PRI. Many workers thought "if the immortal 'charro' (bureaucratic trade unionist) died, this means the system might also come to an end", and therefore voted for the PRD.

Nevertheless the PRI was still able to force some sections of the peasants, small business people and workers to vote for them, thus saving itself from an absolute catastrophe. This will allow the PRI to reach a deal with the PAN in order to control the Congress, which they have lost for the first time.

In any case, the PRI is going through a path which leads to an explosion. It no longer serves any section of the population and may break up into its component parts. The speed of this process will depend on events, specially on the economic situation.

The right wing PAN has seen its advanced halted, and the beginning of a certain decline, despite the millions of pesos spent in TV election publicity. The social basis of the PAN, the big bourgeoisie and the remaining well off sections of the petty bourgeoisie, is too weak to allow it to go much further than the 28% it got with a programme exclusively aimed at these sections.

The PRD has experienced an explosive growth, increasing its share of the vote by 60% in the last three years, especially in the industrial areas of the country. Out of 30 polling districts in Mexico City, the PRD won 28. This fact shows that the working class expressed itself through Cardenas as its main leader. On the night of June 6, the Zocalo square in Mexico City was flooded by tens of thousands of workers celebrating the election victory. This too is a new feature in Mexican politics.

The left wing of the PRD has the duty in the next period to put forward the only programme which can offer a way forward to the country, a socialist programme. The left wing must organise itself rallying the most advanced sections of the trade union, peasant and popular movements, must organise a fighting wing which should go further than just the electoral struggle.

The PRD government in Mexico DF must appeal to popular mobilisation and implement a programme to defend the workers, otherwise it will be in the hands of a hostile national government which will try to make it lose popularity with all kind of tricks.

The PRI is on the ropes but has not been decisively defeated yet. It still has a relative majority in Congress (and the control of the Senate), has the President and controls most of the state apparatus, especially the Army. It also controls an important section of the peasant and trade union movement through the official unions. As long as this situation remains it will be very difficult to say the PRI era has come to an end. It is not enough to defeat the PRI, it must be destroyed as a machine of control.

Therefore it is vital for PRD members to keep organising and preparing the continuation of the struggle, building an alternative for the workers in order to put an end, not only to the PRI, but also to the social system it defends condemning the overwhelming majority of the workers to the most absolute impoverishment.

  • Down with the Zedillo government and its policies!
  • For a PRD government with a socialist programme!