Another State Election, Another PRI Defeat: What the Results from Baja California Sur Tell us

Feb 7, 2011

Duncan Wood

Office of the Simon Chair

In the second of 2011’s state-level elections, the PAN has secured a significant victory in Baja California Sur. Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor won more than 40% of the popular vote, beating the PRI into second place (with 33.52%). The PRD had held the governorship of the state since 1999, but its candidate, Luis Armando Díaz, could only win around 20% of the vote and this ended the contest in third place. This is an important victory for the PAN, coming as it does a week after the PRD won Guerrero in an election in which the PAN candidate withdrew from the race to increase the probabilities of PRD victory.

The biggest impact of these two elections, however, will be on the PRI; two elections in 2011, and two defeats. Although neither of these states will be pivotal in terms of the Presidential race in 2012, defeats there nonetheless represent a blow to the confidence of the party. The seemingly unstoppable PRI momentum that has been building prior to the summer of 2010 appears to be hitting some bumps in the road.  And we must remember that victories by the PRD and the PAN at the state level will impact on the capacity of the PRI to mobilize its famous party machine to generate votes in 2012.

Another important side note in this story has been the use, by both the PAN and the PRD, of candidates who have recently changed parties. In Guerrero, the victorious PRD candidate was Angel Aguirre Rivero, a former PRI party politician who switched parties and carried the day. This was an echo of events in 2010, when a former PRI politician switched parties and overturned 70 years of PRI rule in Oaxaca. In the case of Baja California Sur, Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor is a former PRD party politician who took advantage of his long trajectory in state politics during the PRD’s dominance to secure enough votes to win the election under the PAN banner.

After Baja California Sur, state elections enter a hiatus until May, when campaigning begins for the July 3rd elections in Coahuila, Nayarit and the Estado de Mexico (plus another, non-gubernatorial election in Hidalgo). The main focus then will be on the Estado de Mexico, and the capacity of Enrique Peña Nieto to secure a victory for the PRI in the state he has governed for the past six years. In the next weeks and months, however, attention will turn to the jostling of the parties at the national level, their respective internal races, and potential alliance between the PRD and the PAN.

Photo courtesy of Hoy en Baja California Sur blog