President Felipe Calderon's allies managed to hold back a resurgence by Mexico's old ruling party, according to the results of state elections marred by drug gang violence so severe a large majority of citizens stayed home in two of the most dangerous border states.
Desperate alliances between Mr Calderon's conservative party and Mexico's leftists seized three stronghold states from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had been in power for over 80 years. The party known as the PRI still won nine of the governorships in the election, showing it remains Mexico's most important force 12 years after losing national power, and it seemed to be on track to take the presidency in 2012.
Mr Calderon's National Action Party, meanwhile, was hurt by a weak economy and public revulsion at a wave of drug violence.
Despite the President's pleas for Mexicans to vote, the elections illustrated the intimidating power of drug cartels, with only a third of voters showing up in the country's most violent state, Chihuahua.
Drug gangs hung four bodies from bridges in the state capital on election day. And less than 40 per cent voted in Tamaulipas, where candidate Rodolfo Torre was killed five days earlier.Reuse content