1976 Mexican general election

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Mexican general election, 1976

← 1970 4 July 1976 1982 →
  Jose Lopez Portillo.jpg
Nominee José López Portillo
Party PRI
Home state Mexico City
Popular vote 16,727,993
Percentage 100%

President before election

Luis Echeverría

Elected President

José López Portillo (unopposed)

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General elections were held in Mexico on 4 July 1976.[1] José López Portillo was the only candidate in the presidential election, and was elected unopposed. In the Chamber of Deputies election, the Institutional Revolutionary Party won 195 of the 237 seats,[2] as well as winning all 64 seats in the Senate election.[3] Voter turnout was 64.6% in the Senate election and 62.0% in the Chamber election.[4]

Background and elections[edit]

Amidst a social and economic crisis, president Luis Echeverría appointed his finance minister, José López Portillo, as the candidate for the ruling PRI in the 1976 presidential elections. Before the electoral reform of 1977, only four political parties were allowed to participate in the elections: the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the Popular Socialist Party (PPS), the Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution (PARM) and the right-wing National Action Party (PAN), which was practically the only real opposition party at the time.[5]

The PPS and the PARM supported López Portillo's candidacy, as they had traditionally done with previous candidates for the PRI.

At the time, the opposition party PAN was going through internal conflicts and, for the first time upon its foundation, was unable to nominate a candidate for the 1976 presidential elections.

On the other hand, the Mexican Communist Party nominated Valentín Campa as their presidential candidate. At the time, however, this party had no official registry and was not allowed to participate in elections, so Campa's candidacy was not officially recognized and he didn't have access to the media. He had to run as a write-in candidate, as he would not appear in the ballots.[6]

These factors led to López Portillo effectively running unopposed. His campaign echoed this "unanimous" support for him, and his slogan was "La solución somos todos" ("All of us are the solution"). López Portillo later joked that, due to running without opposition, it would have been enough for "his mother's vote for him" to win the election.[7]

The elections took place during a tense period: the economic crisis, the leftist guerrilla sublevations in some parts of the country and the Dirty War the government took against them, were some of many factors that jeopardized the power of the ruling PRI.

There were many rumours that outgoing president Luis Echeverría was planning to carry out a coup d'état against his own candidate, López Portillo, to perpetuate himself in power. A month after the elections, a diplomatic cable sent by then American ambassador in Mexico, Joseph J. Jova, to the U.S. Department of State echoed those rumours, and detailed a hypothetical scenario in which Echeverría would order the assassination of president-elect López Portillo after September 1, using the leftist guerrilla Liga Comunista 23 de Septiembre and the CIA as scapegoats.[8] On August 13, the Liga tried to kidnap Margarita López Portillo, sister of the president elect; the attempt failed and the Liga's leader, David Jiménez Sarmiento, was killed by security forces during the incident.[9]

In the end, López Portillo took office as scheduled on December 1 without further incidents.



Candidate Party Votes %
José López Portillo Institutional Revolutionary Party 16,727,993 100
Popular Socialist Party
Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution
Invalid/blank votes[a]
Total 16,727,993 100
Source: Nohlen
  1. ^ Valentín Campa ran as a write-in candidate for the Mexican Communist Party, which had no official registry at the time, so his votes were counted as "unregistered" or "blank". Because of this, it is not possible to know the exact number of votes he received, although it is estimated that he could have received well over a million votes, approximately 6% of the total votes. Mario Moya Palencia, then Secretary of the Interior, later stated that Campa obtained "many hundreds of thousands" of votes. Therefore, López Portillo won with 100% of the valid votes, and around 92% of the total votes if the "unregistered" and "invalid/blank" votes are included.


Party Votes % Seats +/-
Institutional Revolutionary Party 13,406,825 87.5 64 0
National Action Party 1,245,406 2.9 0 0
Popular Socialist Party 438,850 2.9 0 0
Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution 188,788 1.2 0 0
Non-registered candidates 40,662 0.3 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 1,407,472
Total 16,727,993 100 64 0
Source: Nohlen

Chamber of Deputies[edit]

Party Votes % Seats +/-
Institutional Revolutionary Party 12,868,104 85.0 195 +6
National Action Party 1,358,403 9.0 20 -5
Popular Socialist Party 479,228 3.2 12 +2
Authentic Party of the Mexican Revolution 403,274 2.7 10 +3
Non-registered candidates 49,471 0.3 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 910,431
Total 16,068,911 100 237 +6
Source: Nohlen


Although the results ensured the PRI remained in power, the lack of opposition to José López Portillo raised concerns about the lack of legitimacy of the Mexican political system.[10] As a result, an electoral reform law was enacted in 1977, introducing partial proportional representation for the Congressional and Senate elections in order to ensure better representation of opposition parties – something extremely difficult under the first-past-the-post system that had been in force. However, the PRI retained its position as the dominant party, retaining the presidency until Vicente Fox of the National Action Party was elected in 2000.

These have been the last Mexican presidential elections in which a candidate has run unopposed.


  1. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p453 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  2. ^ Nohlen, p469
  3. ^ Nohlen, p470
  4. ^ Nohlen, p454
  5. ^ Córdova, L (2003) La reforma electoral y el cambio político en México, p656
  6. ^ Gómez, S (2001) La transición inconclusa: treinta años de elecciones en México, p113
  7. ^ Uziel, C (2010) Los partidos políticos y las elecciones en México: del partido hegemónico a los gobiernos divididos, p143
  9. ^ "Secuestro fallido contra la hermana del presidente electo de México" (in Spanish). El País. August 13, 1976. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  10. ^ G.T. Silvia (2001) La transición inconclusa : treinta años de elecciones en México, p35 ISBN 968-12-1042-5