Sheinbaum Allies Narrowly Miss Supermajority in Mexico Congress

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican President-Elect Claudia Sheinbaum’s coalition got very close to clinching a supermajority in congress, obtaining two-thirds of the seats in the lower house and nearly two-thirds in the senate.

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Although that doesn’t immediately allow Sheinbaum to make changes to the constitution that have eluded Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, it leaves her in the position to negotiate with just a few senators to pass key reforms. The results are based on estimates by Bloomberg Economics.

“The outcome consolidates AMLO’s political hold and will make it more difficult for Sheinbaum to diverge from his road map,” said Bloomberg Economics’ Felipe Hernandez.

The ruling Morena party and its allies are expected to win between 346 and 380 seats in the 500-lawmaker lower house, up from its 330 seats prior to the vote. That surpasses the number needed for a supermajority. In the senate, the government coalition will hold 82 of 128 seats — just four short of a two-thirds majority.

The victories further empower the ruling party, and prove the still-high popularity and influence of AMLO, as the outgoing president is known, who by law isn’t allowed to seek a second six-year term.

The coalition of main opposition parties will hold between 94 and 129 seats in the lower house, down from its current 140. In the senate, they will hold 41 seats, compared to its current 36 legislators.

Morena and its allies have held more than half of the total seats in both houses since the 2021 midterm elections, but less than the two-thirds necessary to pass constitutional reforms. Although the government coalition managed to build a supermajority in the lower house after the 2018 elections, they lost it in 2021.

Read more: AMLO Protege Sheinbaum Becomes First Female President in Mexico

That prevented AMLO from approving sweeping legislative changes, including proposals to reduce the size of congress and give greater power to the country’s state-owned energy companies over private ones.

Analysts have cautioned some of the proposals, such as electing Supreme Court justices through a popular vote and scrapping independent regulatory agencies, undermine democracy.

“Among these initiatives, the reform of the judiciary is the most worrying because it would alter the system of checks and balances, strengthening the executive and removing one of the greatest sources of certainty for investors in recent years,” said Matias Gomez Leautaud, Mexico analyst for Eurasia Group.

Concerns that Morena and its allies were close to a supermajority — and could easily pass anti-market reforms — have caused the Mexican peso to sell off earlier on Monday. It weakened 4% against the dollar at 12:20 p.m. in Mexico City.

Read more: Traders Caught Off Guard as Sweep in Mexico Vote Tanks Peso (1)

Sunday’s elections were Mexico’s largest-ever with 20,367 posts on the ballot, which also included eight governorships and numerous local positions.

The election was also the most violent since 2018, a stark reminder of the rampant violence Sheinbaum is inheriting. At least 749 people connected to the races affected by political violence, ranging from threats to kidnappings and murders.

Candidates were victims in more than 300 of those incidents, including at least 34 who were murdered between September and May, according to the most recent report by Mexico City-based consultancy Integralia. In all, more than 230 people connected to the election have been murdered.

(Updates with analysis after third paragraph.)

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