The ‘Donut’ peaches will be ripe soon. Here you can see this year’s crop behind the netting that protects it from birds and other local thieves (we really do need orchard cops here!).
‘Donut’–also known as ‘Stark Saturn’*–is one of several flat peaches. There is hardly any flesh between the stem and blossom end, so it is easy to cut the pit out and then you really do have a donut! (I will try to remember to perform this little bit of surgery and post a photo here once we have some ripe fruit.)
Like almost every other stone fruit this year, these are later to ripen than usual. We had a late winter.
‘Donut’ has white flesh and a very delicate texture. The flavor has a pleasant bitterness that some say is somewhat almond-like. It would rate pretty high on my list of favorite peaches.
We have two other flat peaches: ‘Sweet Bagel’ (yellow fleshed) and a mystery variety that was labeled by the nursery as ‘Silver Lode’ nectarine, but produced a flat peach (pictured below from last year) that was clearly neither ‘Donut’ nor ‘Sweet Bagel.’ No other flat peach varieties appear in any of my source books, so it really is a mystery.
* Not to be confused with the fruiting-flowering variety simply known as ‘Saturn,’ which is not a flat peach. I have seen them confused in nursery catalogs, so buyer beware!
It was 109 degrees at Ladera Frutal today on the old Fahrenheit scale that we use here for nostalgia’s sake. This is a new record in LF’s four years of data collection. Down the road a bit, in the Escondido valley, it was 113 earlier today, and may well have gone higher later in the day. Records are being broken all around.
It has been hot this summer, that’s for sure. And we have been having skies like the following since mid-June.
A sky like this would be unremarkable in many locations, but is really unusual around these parts, especially in June/July, and even more especially with such heat. Normally, if we have record-approaching heat, it is very dry. I grew up in southern California, and skies like this and humidity were almost unheard of, except for the rare day in late August/September (when eastern Pacific hurricane season peaks and we get some storm outflow).
There have even been some showers on a few days over the past weeks–pretty shocking in early summer for this climate. Some distant rumbles of thunder today. The climate sure seems to have changed in recent decades.
Here’s what, in part, the National Weather Service had to say today at 2:00 p.m. in its Excessive Heat Warning:
DANGEROUSLY HOT WEATHER WILL RETURN SUNDAY AFTERNOON. EVEN THOUGH IT WILL BE A FEW DEGREES LOWER THAN TODAY…HIGH TEMPERATURES WILL LIKELY RANGE FROM 100 TO 112 THE INLAND VALLEYS…AND RANGE FROM 115 TO 120 IN THE DESERTS.
THIS WEEKEND…THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL CREATE A DANGEROUS SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE LIKELY. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS…STAY IN AN AIR- CONDITIONED ROOM…STAY OUT OF THE SUN.. AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS. NEVER LEAVE PEOPLE OR PETS IN ENCLOSED VEHICLES…EVEN BRIEFLY.
Sad to believe that anyone would need to be told that last bit.
The right of the president to veto bills passed by majorities of the legislative branch is enshrined in the constitutions of most presidential systems. Not all such constitutions, however, require a super-majority to override, as is the case in the USA.
With the sudden rediscovery by President Bush of the veto pen that his predecessor must have hidden deep within the Oval Office desk drawer, it is worth asking why the veto? Why should one man or woman have the right to block a bill passed by a majority of the people’s elected representatives, and in the US case, also a majority of senators?
The primary justification for the veto given in the Federalist Papers is to protect the executive from encroachments on its authority. For instance, Madison in Federalist 51, in a passage immediately after offering his defense of bicameralism:
As the weight of the legislative authority requires that it should be thus divided, the weakness of the executive may require, on the other hand, that it should be fortified.
Hamilton elaborates the institutional argument for the veto in Federalist 73:
The propensity of the legislative department to intrude upon the rights and to absorb the powers of the other departments…; the insufficiency of mere parchment deliniation of the boundaries of each…; and the necessity of furnishing each with constitutional arms for its defense… From these clear and indubitable principles results the propriety of the negative, either absolute or qualified, in the executive, upon the acts of the legislative branches. Without one or the other the former would be absolutely unable to defend himself against the depredations of the latter.
Independent institutions, in Madison’s and Hamilton’s logic, will have an incentive to cooperate with one another, and to respect each other’s domains, only to the extent that they also have overlapping powers. That is, separation of powers also requires sharing of powers. Through such sharing of powers between separate institutions, two (or more) branches are induced to transact with one another, i.e., to exchange and cooperate to accomplish their respective functions.
That is to say that the founders’ justification for the presidential veto is an entirely institutional one. The reader of the Federalist papers or other works of the founders of the US Constitution would be hard pressed to find a political justification, by which I mean one that speaks to the electoral and policy-making consequences of the veto.
I am aware of no normative justification for the veto that says it should be used to defend the interests of an ideological minority against the democratic expression of a majority. Nonetheless, that is what Bush has done with his veto of the stem-cell research bill. This bill was passed by about 55% of the House and 63% of the Senate, including in both cases substantial minorities of the party holding the majority of seats and the presidency itself. That is, it was a broadly approved piece of national policy, opposed by a minority. The presidential veto, in this case, allowed the president to enforce the will of an ideological minority that could not prevail in either chamber of the legislature. Such an outcome could not happen in a parliamentary democracy, or in a presidential democracy in which the veto is only a delaying measure (i.e. where it can be overridden by a majority).
In its political consequences, the veto thus empowers one branch over the other inasmuch as the legislative majority is prevented from being sovereign over policy. The executive branch is made into an addtional quasi-legislative branch consisting of one “legislator.” From a democratic (or for that matter, republican) perspective, turning the president into an additional legislative chamber can be tolerated if the legislature is so structured as to fail to represent popular majorities, but the presidency is so elected as to be representative of such majorities.
For instance, a legislature that is highly malapportioned and/or elected without significant national parties to structure national policy debate may pass legislation that is a logroll of favors for special regional and group interests. In such a context, a presidency elected by a majority (or close to it) of the national electorate can prevent the legislature from passing such bills. (Whether the result is just bigger logrolls to overcome the veto or legislation that is more national in scope is a separate question; it is likely to be more “national” to the extent that a nationally accountable president’s preferences must be taken into account.*)
Clearly, the US congress has elements of the logrolling minority-protecting type I just sketched. The Senate is highly malapportioned (an idea, by the way, that Madison fought against until it became clear that the small states would rather break up the US confederation than accede to the democratic two-chamber legislature he was proposing). The House, although not especially malapportioned, is much more localized in its election process than those of most other “advanced” democracies, and our parties are far less programmatic and cohesive than those of most other democracies.
If Bush had vetoed any of the many pork-laden or budget-busting bills that this congress has sent his way since he became president, he could have been said to have been defending “national” priorities against special-interest logrolls. This is the normative political justification for the veto that most coincides with the institutional one that the founders recognized: The president is responsible for the overall execution of national policy and is empowered to defend his prerogatives against legislative encroachments–such as raiding the national treasury for particularistic purposes.
In fact, it was just for such a purpose that Madison, when he was President, issued a veto in March, 1817:
Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled “An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,” and which sets apart and pledges funds “for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses…”
The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers…
I am not aware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the National Legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the national prosperity.
Needless to say, the bill on which Bush issued his first veto is neither a claim on the treasury for local interest nor an overreach of the legislature’s constitutional prerogatives. In fact, the key passage of his short veto message is:
H.R. 810 would overturn my Administration’s balanced policy on embryonic stem cell research. If this bill were to become law, American taxpayers for the first time in our history would be compelled to fund the deliberate destruction of human embryos. Crossing this line would be a grave mistake and would needlessly encourage a conflict between science and ethics that can only do damage to both and harm our Nation as a whole.
I hold to the principle that we can harness the promise of technology without becoming slaves to technology and ensure that science serves the cause of humanity. If we are to find the right ways to advance ethical medical research, we must also be willing when necessary to reject the wrong ways. For that reason, I must veto this bill.
In other words, the president appeals to ethical and scientific issues that were debated in Congress, and in which his opinions on the matter were defeated. The reference to “my Administration’s policy” may sound like a defense of institutional prerogatives, but inasmuch as it refers to an executive order, it is trumped by legislation. Or it would be so trumped if the president were not empowered to protect his executive order from an attempt by a two-house majority of the elected Representatives and Senators to legislate an alternative policy course preferred by majorities of citizens. (The parties’ respective electorates have polarized somewhat on this issue in recent years, thereby increasing the size of the ideological minority that the veto catered to. Nonetheless, it is still a minority view that Bush’s veto has protected.)
By this veto, Bush has protected an ideological minority against the greater majority–a majority that happens to be bipartisan in nature.
This episode is a good argument for abolishing the veto, or at least lowering the override threshold to a majority of each house (as is the case in some other presidential systems and a few US states).** The risk in doing so would be, of course, that it would make congressional logrolls easier to pass. The “fix” for that problem is changing legislative incentives, via electoral reform, but that is a topic that I have covered extensively in other plantings at F&V. The bottom line is that there is no way to endow the presidency with a veto to block pork and “raids on the treasury” without also allowing it to protect ideological minorities. And this president has shown throughout his presidency that he is unwilling to employ the anti-logroll veto, but he showed this week his willingness to employ the ideologue-protection veto.
* The veto would be even more likely to be “nationalizing” were the president directly elected, rather than by an electoral college. While I think the electoral college is a piece of the larger puzzle of presidential incentives in the USA, it is not clear to me how relevant it is to the specific case of this veto.
** UPDATE: On reflection, I do not think I could go so far as to advocate that a president whose authority originates and survives separately from that of the legislature, and who is the head of government, should have no veto. However, I do think we should consider the possibility that a vote by a majority of all members–that is, more than a majority of those present and voting, but far less than our current two thirds–might be sufficient for an override. Such a provision would allow the President to force a reconsideration of a matter that he and his constituency really care about, and would also prevent legislators from ducking accountability and allowing something to pass with majorities of a quorum when many are perhaps conveniently absent. But it would prevent the President from blocking the passage of a measure that actually had the support of majorities of the people’s Representatives and Senators.
Quotes from Hamilton and Madison are from the respective Writings volumes published by The Library of America–treasured items in my own library.
Elsewhere, it is nice of El Criador to have picked up on the discussion for his Argentine audience (en espaÃ±ol).
J.H. Snider has an update, from his correspondent in the Netherlands, on the Citizens Assembly that is reviewing the workings of Dutch democracy.
A couple of things stand out for me in the correspondent’s report:
A poll held in the previous weekend revealed some opinions in the assembly: The majority of the assembly does not want to change anything about the proportionality of our current system, the existence of coalition governments and the current high turnouts at elections (of around 80%).
All good and sensible. But…
Some things the majority thinks should be changed are the number of parties in parliament, the way coalitions and the cabinet are formed, and the role of MPs.
Keeping the existing things they like while getting the new things they want is going to be a interesting exercise in institutional design.
Mexico Watch reports on political and economic developments in that country for business investors and others with an interest in Mexico. The most recent issue includes an interview [PDF; begins on page 3] with your Orchardist about the election. With the permission of the publisher, F&V is able to present some excerpts:
Mexico Watch: Given the experience of other presidential democracies in Latin America, and the specifics of the Mexican system, how viable is CalderÃ³nâ€™s pledge to form a â€œcoalitionâ€ government? What forms could this take and what institutional barriers might impede it?
Matthew Shugart: My answers assume a CalderÃ³n presidency, but of course that is not a sure thing. We have to wait for the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF).
In any event, we have to ask, coalition with whom? The experience of other presidential systems suggests that a coalition of the presidentâ€™s party with that of the runner-up (in this case the PRD) is highly unlikely. The very definition of a presidential system is that the president is solely responsible for organizing and directing the executive branch. Thus the second-place party has little to gain and much to lose from being a junior partner in a coalition for which the presidentâ€™s party will get most of the credit â€“ or blame. And it is blame that it will count on, for the PAN taking blame for whatever goes wrong over the next six years increases the Partido de la RevoluciÃ³n DemocrÃ¡ticaâ€™s (PRD) chances of picking up the top prize in 2012.
A coalition with the PRI is more likely. Probably not a formal coalition, but a working arrangement. The PRI is badly weakened and should be willing to cooperate without demanding too high a price.
MW: What is the likelihood of electoral reform to break the three-party stalemate, and what might a reformed system look like?
MS: I do not like the use of the word, â€œstalemate,â€ or the notion that three-party politics needs to be â€œbroken.â€ There is no majority party in Mexico, and the idea that we should engineer one with crafty electoral-system design is simply the wrong way to approach the situation. While we certainly could create an electoral system that would give one party a majority of deputies despite its not having a majority of votes, I donâ€™t see such a system being legitimate. That is, these parties â€“ yes, even the PRI â€“ represent real constituencies of real Mexicans. Until such time as one of them can convince a majority of Mexicans to vote for it, the parties will have to learn to bargain with one another. Thatâ€™s democracy, and thus something to celebrate!
Of course, one could make a very convincing case that the electoral system for the presidency should be changed to require a runoff. As a student of presidential elections, I do not see anything inherently wrong with presidents being elected with less than 50 percent of the votes, but when they are elected with much less than 50 percent and also a tiny margin, the case for a runoff is strong. But letâ€™s recall that constitutional amendments are unlikely to pass without the cooperation of the PRD. Would that party agree to a majority-runoff format? Could the PRD expect to win a nationwide majority? Would either the PAN or the PRD want to put the PRI in a â€œkingmakerâ€ position in a second round? Interesting questions to ponder! Maybe they could agree to a plurality of less than 50 percent remaining sufficient, but only if some stipulated margin over the runner-up has been achieved. If the margin requirement were not met, then there would be a runoff.
In short, Mexico has a divided electorate, but despite the tensions of this election, I would not say a deeply divided one. Compromise is possible â€“ likely, in fact. The existing electoral system for congress works well, as does the existing balance of powers between the executive and legislature. The troubles Fox had with Congress were more a result of three parties sort of feeling their way in the new competitive environment than of anything structural. If I were asked what one thing to change about Mexicoâ€™s institutions, it would be to allow legislators (maybe the president, too!) to be reelected. Otherwise, do no harm! Mexico has come a long way in a short time, and its democracy is arguably healthier than most in the region.
I would not normally post the following photo, which is of quite poor quality. But on a day when the memorial to the more than 30,000 Jews killed by the Nazis at Babi Yar has been “badly vandalized,” I must post it. As a small token of remembrance. And as an expression of outrage.
Babi Yar is on the outskirts of Kyiv. In September, 1941, the Einsatzgruppen killed over 100,000 people in the span of a few days, including nearly 20% of Kyiv’s Jewish population in the first two days of the masacre.
It was late and getting dark, especially by the time we finally reached the monument to the Jewish vicitms, deep within the park, near where the massacre actually took place.
Located nearer to the metro station is the Brezhnev-era monument to “Soviet citizens” and a newer monument to child victims. Both are depicted in the Ladera Frutal travel pages.
The Jerusalem Post story linked at the beginning of this entry notes:
President Viktor Yushchenko has announced tentative plans for a high-profile service this September to remember Babi Yar victims, inviting numerous heads of state, including US President George W. Bush. Ukrainian Jews have welcomed the plans, but said the government needs to do more to combat anti-Semitism after some high profile attacks on Jews last year.
The Israeli Baseball League, about which I have written before, is now officially underway, with Daniel C. Kurtzer, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, as its first Commissioner. And it turns out that baseball is not as modern as we might think.
By way of Andy Reynolds, one has to wonder why a country that had bad experiences with MNTV (“block vote”) and then some more bad experiences after a change to FPTP would “reform” its system to… are you ready for this…
Weird. But Andy has some great photos from his recent trip to Mongolia posted! (In addition to the linked post, he has another, earlier post with a series of photos.)
Perhaps not the number one issue in that country at the moment, but also far from irrelevant to efforts to bridge the underlying divisions and deadlocks of Lebanese politics, once things get back to “normal.” Andy Reynolds has some information:
the proposed new election system is parallel. 77 Block Vote seats in 1-6 member districts, 51 list PR seats in 6 districts, with a sort of open (2 vote) list…while under both methods seats have to be allocated back down to the confession/sect/ethnicity and single member seat (or qada)…Yes, its really complex! Perhaps the most complex system I have ever seen. [ellipses in original]
Sounds like a bad combination of the worst features of the current system and the Palestinian system. And complex indeed!
La calificaciÃ³n presidencial del aÃ±o 2000 fue una prueba facilÃsima para el TEPJF, fue como pasar el kÃnder. Ahora, en este 2006, la calificaciÃ³n presidencial serÃ¡ para el TEPJF como su doctorado.
Indeed. (Roughly translated: In 2000, validating the election was as easy as passing kindergarten. In 2006, it will be like defending one’s doctorate.)
So, what is this body that now has the resolution of Mexico’s electoral dispute in its hands? It is a judicial body of last resort, charged with resolving election disputes and nothing else. Its Higher Chamber (Sala Superior) consists of seven magistrates who serve ten-year terms, expiring this October. (There are also five regional Salas of three members each.)
The terms of TEPJF magistrates are non-renewable. The body was established by the 1996 electoral reform (a constitutional amendment), and its members are elected by two-thirds vote of the Senate, from a terna, or list of three names (per vacancy), presented by the Supreme Court. (The Supreme Court justices themselves, since another constitutional reform in 1994, are also elected by a two-thirds vote of the Senate from a terna sent by the President, and serve for fifteen-year, non-renewable terms.)
The first TEPJ Sala Superior (which thus is the current one) was actually required to be elected by three fouths of the Senate, and in fact, all votes on these magistrates were unanimous.
In other words, the upcoming case is no Bush v. Gore.
The TEPJF itself has an English-language page that explains its role and also offers profiles of the magistrates.
It is worth noting that the Tribunal is sometimes referred to as the “TRIFE,” after the name of the tribunal that was in place in the early 1990s. The older acronym, often written Trife, is still used, presumably because “Tepjf” is not pronounceable!
The answer depends on which one is president, because the PAN performed far better than the PRD in the congressional seat-allocation process.
The PAN has won 207 of the 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, against 160 for the PRD-led coalition and 119 for the PRI. Two smaller parties obtained representation: Nueva Alianza (9) and Alternativa (5). The votes percentages for the three leading parties split: 33.4, 29.0, 28.2. The PAN’s enormous advantage ratio (41.4% seats/33.4% votes) of 1.24 is a stark reminder that Mexico’s mixed-member system is not MMP. In fact, the PAN’s degree of over-representation is just short of the legal cap of eight percentage points. Mexico’s MMM (parallel) system greatly advantages the party that performs best in the single-seat-district plurality races. With 139 such wins in 300 districts (46.3%) on just over a third of the vote, that was the PAN, by a big margin. (The PRD-led alliance won 99, or 33.0%, and the PRI a paltry 62, or 20.7%.)
(The result is classic three-way competition in plurality SSD races: The PRI undoubtedly lost votes to the PRD, but seats to the PAN.)
In the Senate, the PAN will have 53 seats, the PRD-led coalition and the PRI each will have 37, and one seat will be held by Nueva Alianza. (Votes percentages were: 33.4, 29.7, 28.1.)
If the narrow victory of Felipe CalderÃ³n in the preliminary official count is upheld after legal challenges, he will be in a strong position vis-a-vis the congress.
Much commentary that I have seen and heard–that which has even referred to the congressional result, that is–has lamented the supposedly difficult “governability” that Mexico is in for. I have to put the word, “governability,” in quotation marks for two reasons. One, I never know precisely what the concept is supposed to mean, and two, whatever it might mean, it appears to imply a bias in favor of the president. That is, a situation of “low governability” is loosely defined as one in which the president lacks the ability to assure passage of his policy proposals, as though it were completely natural that such proposals should pass. The Fox years have been described as years of “deadlock” in numerous quarters. But, of course, the very nature of presidential democracy is that there are two elected branches (with one of them, as in Mexico, divided into two chambers). If the president has been unable to win a majority in the legislature for his party, we should have no expectation that his proposals should pass, at least not without compromise and alteration. That’s democracy.
So, how would a CalderÃ³n presidency compare with that of Fox, based on the performance of the president’s party in congress? Pretty well, we can expect.
Consider that in 2000, the PAN-led coalition managed 223 seats. Superficially, this looks like a stronger position than the PAN will find for itself in the new congress. However, that coalition included the PVEM (green party), which was an unreliable ally and later aligned itself with the PRI. Moreover, the PRI itself had 209 seats. In the Senate, the situation was worse for Fox, as the PRI held the plurality (44 to 41).
So, after the 2000 election, the PRI and PAN were close in seats in both chambers. The PRI could make the calculation that it was likely to make a comeback. Indeed it did, in the 2003 midterm deputies election, increasing its total to 223 against only 155 for the PAN. The PRD was a distant third in both the 2000 and 2003 elections, but its best known national officeholder, Mexico City mayor LÃ³pez Obrador, was considered the front-running presidential contender for 2006 throughout most of Fox’s term. The expectation that it would win the next presidential contest put the PRD in little mood to help Fox and his party. There was little incentive for either major opposition party to work to help Fox succeed, because both parties expected to improve their electoral position in the near future. Helping the PAN and Fox could only hurt their own cause.
Now, on the other hand, the PAN will have more than a forty-seat margin over the next largest party in the 500-seat Chamber and a 16-seat edge in the 128-seat Senate. While the PRD is unlikely to offer much of a hand of cooperation to a CalderÃ³n presidency, the PRI is not likely to be as much an obstacle as it has been. It will want access to policy-making and patronage to sustain itself in the states where it remains strong. It should be willing to bargain, as it is no longer in a position where a return to national plurality status is realistic.
It is worth noting here that on any matters for which the president–either man–wishes to change the constitution, the PRI is not in a pivotal position. Its votes in the Chamber of Deputies remain short of the necessary two thirds when combined with those of either the PAN or the PRD.* That is, any major structrural changes–such as opening up oil extraction to foreign partnerships–the PRD and the PAN would have to agree. That seems like a good thing, given the closeness of the result and the “dinosaurness” of the PRI. Mexico’s two modern, programmatic parties will have to cooperate for anything really major to be done. Which probably means not much will be, which is not a bad thing, given the evident absence of consensus within the Mexican electorate.
So, on legislation (but not constitutional amendments) the CalderÃ³n “governability” outlook is actually pretty good. For regular statutory and budgetary politics, 40% of both chambers and a large margin over the next largest party provide a good bargaining situation for CalderÃ³n. If he is indeed the next president of Mexico. What if AMLO is instead? Then things are not so bright. A president LÃ³pez Obrador would have his party in command of less than a third of the seats in either chamber. In other words, not even enough to sustain vetoes (which can be overridden by two-thirds votes), let alone much of a base around which to build positive majorities to pass administration programs. He would be highly dependent upon the PRI to accomplish much of anything (just as he would have owed his narrow plurality in the presidential race to voters who cast PRI votes for congress but AMLO votes for pesident). The alternative is that he and his party come to agreement with the PAN. He would have to bargain.
Or would he? There are those who think he would be a “ChÃ¡vez” and govern without regard for the niceties of checks and balances. The idea of an AMLO presidency is at this point very hypothetical, but let’s think a bit about the validity of these scary scenarios. The short story is I do not find these claims credible. It is not as though presidents can circumvent congress by force of will or even through mobs in the streets. Especially presidents who won barely 35% of the vote. ChÃ¡vez won a solid majority in 1998–the largest in the then 40-year history of multiparty elections in Venezuela (and in a single-round election). He likely would have won a comparable share of congress had not the old-line parties changed the electoral cycle before the 1998 election to prevent a “coattail” effect (holding the elections separately and long before the ChÃ¡vez phenomenon had really taken off). ChÃ¡vez, a cashiered Lt. Colonel, also had elements of the armed forces on his side. The Venezuelan Supreme Court was highly corrupt and politicized and in little position to defend the constitution against ChÃ¡vez and the obvious popularity of his planned “revolution.” Federalism in Venezuela hardly mattered at all. In fact, de-facto federalism probably was a less significant constraint on the central government in “democratic” Venezuela than in “authoritarian” Mexico.
AMLO would have none of these advantages: A small personal electoral plurality, a poor showing in congress, a quite professional Supreme Court, control of few states, and no prospect of the Mexican army coming to his side. An AMLO presidency would be weak. There are some of us who, regardless of how we might feel about the candidates (and full disclosure here: were I Mexican, I almost surely would have voted for CalderÃ³n**), do not think such an outcome would be so bad. After all, who is to say that AMLO was not, in fact, the Condorcet winner, regardless of whether or not he won the plurality? Not me.
I’ll address the Condorcet issue–and the related questions of the value for Mexico in adopting, or not, a two-round presidential election system in the future–at another time.
* I suppose, theoretically, the PRI could make itself pivotal by first making an accord with the Nueva Alianza (9 seats). (The other small party does not have quite enough for its votes, plus the PRI and PAN to equal two thirds of the Chamber.) I suspect this is highly unlikely and even if it were to occur, on the other side of this equation it is worth noting that the PRI will not actually have all the 119 seats I attributed to it above. Some of those are actually PVEM seats as part of the parties’ pre-election alliance. Similarly, the PRD does not have 160 seats, as some of those have been won by its alliance partners, the Worker’s Party and Convergence. The PAN, on the other hand, is just the PAN; it did not offer any nominations on its lists (or districts) to other parties.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4