Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Mexican president's party loses quarter of its Congress seats


President Vicente Fox's party lost one-quarter of its seats in Mexico's lower house of Congress, a federal electoral official said Sunday, confirming frustration among voters with the president's first three years in office.

Fox, whose victory in July 2000 ended 71 years of rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), has battled a hostile Congress and failed to pass his proposals for energy, labor and tax reforms.

Early results, released hours after the July 6 midterm congressional elections, projected gains for the PRI and losses for Fox's conservative National Action Party (PAN).

On Sunday, federal electoral officials announced final vote tallies and party percentages, but refused to give a final breakdown in Congress.

However, a high ranking federal electoral official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the PRI had 224 seats, up from its current level of 207 and just 27 votes short of a majority.

The PAN dropped to 153 seats, and the leftist Democratic Revolution Party nearly doubled its stake in the lower house of Congress, winning 95 spots.

The remaining 28 seats were divided among smaller parties.

While Sunday's results reflected the final vote tally, electoral officials warned that several races will likely be contested and the outcome of some races could change.

Fox's party was hoping for a majority in the last three years of his term.

"The legislation that the PAN was looking for is not going to happen," said political analyst Ana Maria Salazar. "The president's going to have to find a way to renegotiate. He's going to have to give up something."

Also on Sunday, the PRI was given the official lead in Campeche state's close gubernatorial race. PRI candidate Jorge Carlos Hurtado received about 4,000 more votes than the PAN's Juan Carlos del Rio, although the results had not yet been certified and were likely to be contested, state election official Luis Maury said on Sunday.

In the Pacific coast state of Sonora, the PRI's Eduardo Bours was declared the winner of another close gubernatorial race with a lead of 1 percent, according to final results released Saturday. The PAN was also expected to contest that election.

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