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Friday, Nov. 16, 2012

Electoral institute chief says presidential runoff could help nation avoid disputes

He urges lawmakers to look into the matter; they could do well to read UCSD political scientist Matthew S. Shugart's analysis of switching to a runoff system

(Shugart won't be at UCSD much longer; he is moving to UC Davis in January)

     leonardo valdesLeonardo Valdés, the president of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), said Thursday that a runoff between the top two contenders could help Mexico avoid the electoral disputes it has undergone in the last two elections. He suggested that Congress look into the possibility of establishing a runoff instead of giving the presidency to the candidate who only wins a plurality, no matter how small.

      A number of democracies have runoffs if no candidate wins a majority. They include France, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Peru, and Uruguay.

      The Mexican left may oppose a runoff out of fear that it would not be able to win a two-person race. Andrés Manuel López Obrador came very close to winning in 2006 in Mexico's first-past-the-post system and said fraud had cost him the presidency. He disputed this year's results, saying the Institutional Revolutionary Party bought votes and had the nation's TV networks in its pocket.

      matthew S ShugartIf lawmakers take up the matter, they can have at their disposal an analysis of the subject by University of California San Diego political scientist Matthew S. Shugart of the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. He suggests that Mexico, instead of switching to a runoff when no candidate wins a majority, should consider what is called a double complement, where someone with only a plurality could win the presidency but only with a major margin of victory. If those conditions were not met, then there would be a two-candidate runoff.

      Shugart won't be at UCSD much longer; he is moving to UC Davis in January.

Story in Frontera (PDF).

2006 analysis by UCSD political scientist Matthew S. Shugart on the possibility of Mexico switching to a presidential runoff system: "Plurality vs. Runoff Election of Presidents: The Mexican Election of 2006 in Comparative Perspective" (PDF)

Spanish version of his article, in Política y Gobierno: "Mayoría relativa vs. segunda vuelta: La elección presidencial mexicana de 2006 en perspectiva comparada" (PDF)