Mexico Moving Toward Two-Party System

The Associated Press
Monday, July 10, 2006; 11:50 PM

MEXICO CITY -- It may not be clear who won the presidency, but the July 2 election vividly demonstrated that Mexico is shifting toward a two-party system, with parties of the left and right holding the most seats in Congress.

The new battle lines have exposed regional and class differences that haven't been expressed so openly in Mexico in nearly a century, suggesting lawmakers will be increasingly polarized on key issues.

But the emerging order may also make it easier for a ruling party to form a majority; the current three-party system has resulted in congressional gridlock.

"The future of a two-party system benefits Mexico," said Carlos Navarrete, who won a Senate seat for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party. "We will move to a situation like in Spain, where power is sometimes held by a strong center-right government and sometimes by a strong center-left administration."

The governing National Action Party's electoral representative, Jorge Zermeno, said late Sunday that his party won the most seats _ 206 _ in the 500-member lower house. Democratic Revolution has 127 seats, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has 103, and minor parties have the 64 remaining seats.

In the Senate, National Action received the largest percentage of votes at 33.5 percent, followed by Democratic Revolution with 29 percent and the PRI with 28 percent.

The divide was even sharper in the fight for the presidency, which will be decided by the courts.

Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won 16 states, most in the center and underdeveloped south, by promising to put the nation's 50 million poor first. Conservative Felipe Calderon, who pledged to protect jobs, capital and investment, also won in 16 states _ most in the industrialized north and west.

PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo tried to find a middle ground, criticizing what he called the "radical left and the intolerant right." But he was trounced at the polls, losing in every state.

Calderon won the official count by fewer than 244,000 votes, Mexico's closest presidential race ever.

Lopez Obrador is demanding a manual recount of all 41 million ballots. Just before midnight Sunday, his party gave the nation's top electoral court nine boxes containing alleged evidence of electoral fraud and dirty campaign practices.

On Monday, Fox's spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, said the president will not meet with either candidate until the court declares a winner.

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