Mexicans living abroad cast ballots for the first time in 2006 – and no surprise, they overwhelmingly voted against the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderon captured 58 percent of the vote. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) finished second with 34 percent. The PRI received only four percent – marginally better than Alternativa candidate Patricia Mercado.
Few Mexicans outside of the country participated; only 32,261 votes were received. The foreign vote amounted to only 0.057 of the total.
Although talked about for years, congress finally passed a law that allowed voting from abroad last year. The PRI never embraced the practice due to fears Mexicans abroad would vote against the then-governing party and were not easily influenced. The results confirmed their suspicions.
Writing in El Economista, Universidad Iberoamericana professor Carla Pederzini, put forward several reasons why the PAN won the foreign vote. She commented, "Maybe the panista vote from Mexicans abroad is due to the fact the campaign of Felipe Calderon concentrated on generating jobs and economic opportunities ... aspects immigrants tend to identify as basic for the economic development of the country.
"Another reason for the vote towards the PAN is that Mexicans abroad perceive the respect given to institutions and legality in the countries where they live as a fundamental aspect for the development and generation of opportunities ... and (migrants) identify this type of behavior in the PAN candidate’s proposals."
Ultimately, it could simply be, "A punishment vote," against the PRI, a group many migrants blame for the conditions that made them leave Mexico.