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It ain’t over til it’s over… or — PAN: better really late than never

4 July 2006

The preliminary vote count has Calderón ahead of AMLO by a little over 400,000 votes.

While these are only a quick tabulation, and a full count is required, all the wire services are reporting that it appears Calderón won. The very narrow margin of victory — if indeed, the full count matches the preliminary one. As I wrote last night, IFE is going to have to make a convincing case that its count was accurate for Calderón — or AMLO, for that matter — to be seen as the legitimate president-elect. Unlike people in the U.S., after the contested 2000 election, Mexicans are not going to accept a dubious “technical” victor.

I don’t have a say in the election, but I make no secret of having prefered AMLO. Even if he didn’t win, the PRD did very well indeed. It normally only gets about 15% of the national vote, and isn’t even represented in large parts of the country. The “Por el Bien de Todos” coalition looks to have captured 30% of the votes for Senate and Deputy — and that’s a HUGE increase, especially considering the two other parties in the coalition (PT and Convergencia) were lucky to get one or two “set aside” (proportional representation) seats normally. With Alternativa probably also getting at least a proportional seat or two in both houses, there’ll be a broad leftist bloc balancing out PAN.

With PRI (which, everyone forgets that PRI and PRD are both member parties of Socialist International) — which is naturally a rival, but will agree with the leftist bloc on broad issues, Mexico is in no danger of shifting permanently to the right.

PANAL (Nueva Alianza) is just Elba Esther Gordillo’s creature, and will probably side with PAN (Elba Esther’s attempt to swing her faction of PRI to support for PAN is what got her tossed out of the party in the first place)… which is like Jimmy Hoffa backing Nixon — but still, PANAL is TECHNICALLY a labor party.

So — what’s changed? PAN is LOSING SUPPORT! While they gained one delegacion in Mexico City (Cuijamalpa, which is similar to a lot of exurbs in the U.S., going from rural to suburbanite yuppie within 10 years), they lost voters in even strongholds like Guanajuanto. In Morelos — the governor’s race is — like the Presidential one — a close call between PAN and PRD. The PRI candidate was basically a joke (she was the one whose daughter was trying to bribe the voters with free panties), but the PRD is taking over municipalities and the state legislature.

After being told that the 2000 election meant an end to Mexican leftism, and a turn to neoliberalism, the Mexican voters in 2006 are back to their normal pattern: ever since Alvaro Obregón defined “the Revolutionary Party” back in 1920 as “everyone who supported the Revolution”, about 60% of voters have gone labor/left. Of course, for many years THE Revolutionary Party was PRI, which really didn’t need to spend so much time and effort on stealing votes over the years.

The big democratic change came when PRI became too wrapped up in neoliberalism and technocratic governance to lose leftist support. It was Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano‘s stolen left-wing victory in 1988 that led to the democratization of the system. PAN was merely the accidental (or — perhaps not so accidental: Jesse Helms and right-wing Republicans had a lot to do with it — but that’s another story) beneficiary of the changes.

In 2000 PAN managed to tone down its clerical wing, and gave the synarchists (the Mexican form of Francoism) a “human face” (it’s no accident that that José María Aznar, Spain’s former Minister-President, and Partido Popular leader openly supported PAN while in Mexico) and attracting voters tired of the PRI or uncomfortable with openly leftist leaders like Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano (AMLO was always being described in the U.S. media as a “firey leftist” — usually by reporters who’d never heard Cárdenas speak. AMLO is languid — and even at his firest, he’s laid-back by comparison). And Fox promised radical change.

Buyer’s remorse… or voter’s remorse … and PAN’s reversion to it’s old ways (in one of the more notorious incidents, a new PAN administration in Aguacalientes posted “NO DOGS OR GAYS” signs at city swimming pools) probably limit the party’s growth. Marta Fox — like Aznar the Spaniard — is a smiling, semi-reformed fascist and was too visible for voters to miss. And PAN’s “pious wing” has made a comeback, with Manuel Espino Barrientos’ election as party leader (this would be like electing a Christian Coalition leader as head of the Republican Party). Its growth potential is limited, unless either the Mexicans turn reactionary and clerical (not bloody likely!) or the party broadens its appeal.

Calderón has already realized that the only way to form a legitimate administration is going to be to form a coalition with the left. It sound like, grudgingly, and only 86 years late, the right is joining the Revolution.

(Yes, yes… I know Wikipedia isn’t considered the most reliable source of unbiased information… but they’re not bad for basic biographical data or general information)

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