MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s old ruling party and its allies appear to have fallen just short of a majority in both houses of Congress, electoral authorities said Tuesday, giving smaller parties the potential of leveraging their swing votes and increasing the likelihood that parties will try to poach congressmen from rivals.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which held Mexico’s presidency for 71 years, has been declared the winner of the July 1 presidential elections, marking its first return to the presidency since 2000.
Known as the PRI, it is allied with the smaller Green Party, and together they won 240 seats in the 500-seat lower house of Congress. The PRI has had an on-again, off-again partnership with the New Alliance Party, controlled by the head of Mexico’s largest teachers’ union, which won an additional 10 seats in the lower house.
Together, the three parties would have exactly half of the lower house, but all 500 legislators are almost never present for any session.
The Federal Electoral Institute also projected Tuesday that the PRI and Green parties will have 61 seats in the 128-seat Senate, and the New Alliance will have one. If they vote together, that would collectively give the three parties 62 Senate seats, three short of a majority.
The figures are projections. Because some seats are directly elected and some are assigned proportionally based on a complex formula that takes into account each party’s share of the vote, the final totals will be announced by a federal electoral court in a few weeks.
The winner of the July 1 elections, PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, appeared to recognize the need to reach out across party lines, saying Tuesday he will start seeking a consensus with other parties even before he takes office Dec. 1.
“Let’s gain some time precisely by talking about common-ground issues, issues that all the parties propose,” he said.
Peña Nieto did not say which issues would enjoy such broad support. Almost every theme on the legislative agenda — including tax and political reforms, increased private-sector involvement in the energy sector, and anticrime strategies — is the subject of heated debate.
President Felipe Calderon’s conservative National Action Party, while it came in third in the presidential vote, will have 114 seats in the lower house, and the leftist Democratic Revolution Party will have 101. However, Democratic Revolution is closely allied to two small parties whose combined vote will effectively push the left into second place in Congress with about 136 seats.