The 2006 Mexican Election and its Aftermath



This site provides links to articles that appear in PS: Political Science and Politics, 40, 1 (January 2007).  (Click here to download the latest version of Adobe Reader.)

Competition came to Mexico’s new democracy with unexpected fury in the nation’s 2006 presidential election. Until recently Mexico was the bastion of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), where opposition parties could rarely hope to gain half as many votes. But in the July 2 presidential election, Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN) edged Ándres Manuel López Obrador of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) by a mere 233,831 votes, or 0.58% of the more than 41.5 million cast. The PRI’s candidate, Roberto Madrazo, finished a distant third. Calderón took this razor-thin margin after a fiercely competitive campaign marked by lavish media spending and the use of negative attack ads. López Obrador has contested the outcome from the time the polls closed until the present, calling his supporters into the streets on several occasions to put pressure on the electoral authorities to recount the votes; staging an “election by acclamation” in which those present at a rally on Mexico’s Independence Day “elected” López Obrador by a show of hands; and scheduling an “inauguration” ceremony on November 20, the anniversary of the onset of the Mexican Revolution. While López Obrador challenged the preliminary outcome, Calderón had to wait patiently until the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TRIFE) declared him elected on September 5, fully two months after the ballots had been cast.

The articles in this symposium offer analysis of several key features of the 2006 Mexican elections and their impact on Mexican politics:  the economic context in which the elections took place, the partisan and ideological cleavages revealed in the electoral results, the divergence between elite polarization and mass moderation on key issues, the decline of the former ruling party (the PRI), post-electoral mobilizations by López Obrador, and the meaning of the elections for the development of Mexican democracy.  The authors provide non-technical analysis of important new sources of data: the Mexico 2006 Panel Study, the Mexico 2006 Candidate and Party Leader Survey, and Reforma's Exit Poll.



Joseph L. Klesner


About the Authors

Kathleen Bruhn is associate professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of two books on Mexican politics, most recently, Mexico: The Struggle for Democratic Development (with Daniel C. Levy). She is currently completing a manuscript on urban protest in Mexico and Brazil.

Todd A. Eisenstadt teaches political science at American University's School of Public Affairs, where he is also principal researcher of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Higher Education and Development Program grant: “Uniting Law and Society in Oaxaca, Mexico: A Research and Teaching Program.He is the author of Courting Democracy in Mexico: Party Strategies and Electoral Institutions, and several articles on Mexico's democratization.

Kenneth F. Greene is assistant professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is Co-Principal Investigator on the Mexico 2006 Panel Study and author of the forthcoming book Defeating Dominance: Party Politics and Mexico's Democratization in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

Joseph L. Klesner is professor and chair in the Department of Political Science at Kenyon College. He has recently published articles on Mexican politics and on political participation in Latin America in the Latin America Research Review, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and Latin American Politics and Society.

Joy Langston is a research professor at the Center for Teaching and Research in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City. Her research centers on political parties in Latin America and Mexico, and her work has been published in Party Politics and Comparative Political Studies.

Chappell Lawson is associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and non-resident Fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy. He is the co-editor (with Jorge Domínguez) of Mexico's Pivotal Democratic Election and author of Building the Fourth Estate: Democratization and the Rise of a Free Press in Mexico.

Alejandro Moreno is professor of political science at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, ITAM, and head of the department of surveys at newspaper Reforma, both in Mexico City. He has published over 30 articles in journals and edited volumes and is the author of Political Cleavages , El Votante Mexicano , and Nuestros Valores, as well as co-author of Human Values and Beliefs, with Ronald Inglehart and Miguel Basáñez.

The 2006 Mexican Presidential Election: The Economy, Oil Revenues, and Ideology
Alejandro Moreno

The PRI’s 2006 Electoral Debacle
Joy Langston

The 2006 Mexican Elections: Manifestation of a Divided Society?
Joseph L. Klesner

Elite Polarization Meets Mass Moderation in Mexico’s 2006 Elections
Kathleen Bruhn and Kenneth F. Greene

The Origins and Rationality of the “Legal versus Legitimate” Dichotomy Invoked in Mexico’s 2006 Post-Electoral Conflict
Todd A. Eisenstadt

How Did We Get Here? Mexican Democracy after the 2006 Elections
Chappell Lawson