1994 Mexican general election
General elections were held in Mexico on 21 August 1994. The presidential elections resulted in a victory for Ernesto Zedillo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whilst the PRI won 300 of the 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 95 of the 128 seats in the Senate. Voter turnout ranged from 77.4% in the proportional representation section of the Chamber elections to 75.9% in the constituency section.
States won by Ernesto Zedillo are colored green
To date, the 1994 elections mark the last time a presidential candidate won in 31 all states and Mexico City.
The 1994 election took place in an atmosphere of political instability after the rise of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) on 1 January that year. The insurgency was a serious hit on the image that the Government wanted to portray of a developed, advanced country, and it highlighted the negative effects of the neoliberal reforms enacted by the Salinas administration.
In the past six years, the right-wing opposition Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) had won many state elections, and was seen as a serious contender for the presidency in 1994. On the other hand, the left-wing Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD), while building a wide social base, had failed to win any state governorship, which its leaders blamed on repression and electoral fraud by the PRI-controlled federal government.
Outgoing President Carlos Salinas de Gortari chose his Secretary of Social Development, Luis Donaldo Colosio, to be the PRI presidential candidate. Salinas' choice sparked a brief internal conflict in the government, as Manuel Camacho Solís, who was then Mayor of Mexico City, had expected himself to be the PRI candidate, and quit his position in protest. President Salinas immediately appointed Camacho as Minister of Foreign Relations to hide the conflict, and tried to appease him. In the aftermath of the Zapatista uprising, Camacho was designated Peace Commissioner in Chiapas.
The PAN chose Diego Fernández de Cevallos as their candidate through an internal convention. Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas ran for the presidency once again, this time as the candidate of the PRD, the party he founded in 1989. Other six parties presented their own candidates.
In the initial months of the campaign, PRI candidate Colosio expressed dissatisfaction with his campaign management, as polls indicated that his percentage of supporters was far less than that obtained by previous PRI candidates. His campaign languished with lack of funding, and Colosio had problems getting media coverage, given the high-profile events in Chiapas. Due to his alleged poor performance, the PRI leadership considered replacing him as the presidential candidate, and rumours began that Camacho would replace him, as Camacho's own popularity had increased due to his role as mediator in the Zapatista conflict. At one point, President Salinas had to state to the media "Don't get confused, Colosio is the candidate".
Due to his campaign's underperformance, Colosio tried to distance himself from the outgoing President. On March 6, 1994, the anniversary of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (the PRI), Colosio delivered a controversial but popular speech in the nation's capital, in front of the Monument to the Mexican Revolution. In it, he spoke of indigenous communities, government abuse, and the people's independence from government, all hot button issues at a time when the Zapatistas were making similar statements. The speech is widely considered the moment when Colosio broke with then president, Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
On 22 March, Camacho himself stated that he was not interested in being the PRI candidate, instead focusing on the Chiapas conflict. The day after Camacho's statement, Colosio was killed.
Assassination of Luis Donaldo ColosioEdit
At 5:05 PM PST, on 23 March 1994, at a campaign rally in Lomas Taurinas, a poor neighborhood of Tijuana, Baja California, Colosio was shot in the head with a .38 Special at a distance of a few centimeters from a nearby person recording a video. Colosio collapsed, and was subsequently rushed to the city's main hospital, after plans to fly him to an American hospital across the border were canceled. His death was announced a few hours later, amid contradicting eyewitness reports that remain to this day.
The shooter, Mario Aburto Martínez, was arrested at the site and never wavered from his story that he had acted alone. Nonetheless, many theories still surround Colosio's assassination. The authorities were criticized for their poor handling of Aburto, having shaved, bathed and given him a prison haircut before showing him to the media, which started rumors about whether that man, who looked so different from the one arrested, was really the murderer. Colosio received three bullet wounds, and it was never clear if they could have been done by a single person or not. The case was officially closed after many different prosecutors investigated it, but after the many mishandlings of the investigation and contradictory versions, the controversy continues. Aburto remains imprisoned at the high-security La Palma facility in Almoloya de Juárez.
The assassination had a profound impact on the Mexican public opinion, already tumultuous by the conflict in Chiapas. The assassination of Colosio was the first magnicide to occur in Mexico since the murder of Álvaro Obregón in 1928.
There are a number of conspiracy theories about the assassination, including that it was by narcotraffickers. However, the most accepted theory among the Mexican people is that he was betrayed by his own party and that the murder was orchestrated by high members of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) including the president Carlos Salinas de Gortari as Colosio's speech was flouncing away from Salinas's political agenda to maintain influence during further Mexican Administrations.
Selection of the new PRI candidateEdit
President Salinas declared three days of national mourning after Colosio's death, while all the opposition candidates lamented the assassination and called for an end to political violence.
In the aftermath, many PRI members sought to replace the dead candidate. In the end, President Salinas chose Ernesto Zedillo, who had been Colosio's campaign manager, as the new PRI presidential candidate. Zedillo had been Secretary of Education, a relatively unimportant ministry; he had resigned to run the campaign of Colosio. Zedillo had never held elective office, sharing that trait with De la Madrid and Salinas, but Zedillo was not otherwise experienced politically. He was perceived as a weak candidate. There were speculation that Salinas wished to perpetuate his power as Plutarco Elías Calles had in the wake of the 1928 assassination of president-elect Alvaro Obregón, controlling successor presidents.
For the first time in Mexican history, the 1994 campaign featured televised debates between the Presidential candidates. On 12 May, the three main contenders Zedillo, Fernández de Cevallos and Cárdenas participated in the first Presidential debate in Mexican history. An estimated audience of 34 million watched the debate. Polls after the debate indicated that the PAN candidate, Diego Fernández de Cevallos, had defeated the other two candidates, and had become capable of defeating the PRI candidate in the elections. However, in the aftermath of the debate Fernández de Cevallos seemed to decrease his media presence, and Zedillo continued in the first place at the polls; on the other hand, the polls also indicated that Zedillo might win with less than 50% of the popular vote, something unprecedented for a PRI candidate (notwithstanding previous controversial elections in which the PRI was accused of fraud).
After the 12 May debate between the main three contenders, there was also a debate between the Presidential candidates of smaller parties.
Opinion polls (1994)Edit
|23 March - Assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio|
|12 May - First presidential debate in Mexican history|
|V. Voto||17 May||48%||26%||9%||4%||13%||1.5|
|V. Voto||18 June||41%||21%||8%||2%||28%||1.5|
|V. Voto||28 July||47%||17%||8%||3%||25%||1.5|
|El País||1 August||40%||21%||11%||6%||22%||1.5|
Although tension did not reach the level it did around the 1988 election, most political analysts agree that voters opted for continuity by allowing the PRI to remain in power, fearing that the country might otherwise be destabilized.
|Ernesto Zedillo||Institutional Revolutionary Party||17,181,651||48.69|
|Diego Fernández de Cevallos||National Action Party||9,146,841||25.92|
|Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano||Party of the Democratic Revolution||5,852,134||16.59|
|Cecilia Soto González||Labor Party||970,121||2.75|
|Jorge González Torres||Ecologist Green Party of Mexico||327,313||0.93|
|Rafael Aguilar Talamantes||Party of the Cardenist Front of National Reconstruction||297,901||0.84|
|Álvaro Pérez Treviño||Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution||192,795||0.55|
|Marcela Lombardo Otero||Popular Socialist Party||166,594||0.47|
|Pablo Emilio Madero||Mexican Democratic Party||97,935||0.28|
|Source: Instituto Federal Electoral|
Results by stateEdit
Based on the official results of the Federal Electoral Institute
|Baja California Sur||80,097||46,907||9,463||3,905||786||564||386||324||242||35||2,580|
|San Luis Potosí||440,601||196,351||73,523||19,705||4,546||2,980||3,701||2,537||3,192||996||26,783|
|Institutional Revolutionary Party||17,195,536||50.2||95||+34|
|National Action Party||8,805,038||25.7||25||+24|
|Party of the Democratic Revolution||5,579,949||16.8||8||+6|
|Party of the Cardenist Front of National Reconstruction||400,019||1.2||0||0|
|Ecologist Green Party of Mexico||438,941||1.3||0||0|
|Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution||269,735||0.8||0||0|
|Popular Socialist Party||215,673||0.6||0||0|
|Mexican Democratic Party||120,419||0.4||0||0|
Chamber of DeputiesEdit
|Institutional Revolutionary Party||16,851,082||50.2||17,236,836||50.3||300||-20|
|National Action Party||8,664,834||25.8||8,833,468||25.8||119||+30|
|Party of the Democratic Revolution||5,590,391||16.7||5,728,733||16.7||71||+30|
|Ecologist Green Party of Mexico||470,951||1.4||479,594||1.4||0||0|
|Party of the Cardenist Front of National Reconstruction||379,960||1.1||390,402||1.1||0||-23|
|Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution||285,526||0.9||290,489||0.9||0||-15|
|Popular Socialist Party||231,162||0.7||239,371||0.7||0||-12|
|Mexican Democratic Party||148,279||0.4||151,100||0.4||0||0|
- Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p453 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
- Discurso de Luis Donaldo Colosio, durante el acto conmemorativo del LXV Aniversario del PRI en el Monumento a la Revolución. Marzo 6, 1994
- Patenostro, Silvana. "Mexico as a Narco-democracy." World Policy Journal 12.1 (1995): 41-47.
- Thomas Legler, "Ernesto Zedillo" in Encyclopedia of Mexico. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn 1997, p. 1641
- Heverg. "Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, Ernesto Zedillo y Diego Fernández de Cevallos, protagonizaron el primer debate entre candidatos presidenciales en México hace 20 años". Plumas Atómicas. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
- Kuschik, Murilo (April 2002). México: elecciones y el uso de las encuestas preelectorales. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales. p. 116. Retrieved 2 September 2019.