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Republicans could learn a thing or two from the P.R.I.

10 November 2008

The State of Hidalgo municipal elections were yesterday.    Outright, PRI only won 15 municipalities (out of 84), and another 37 in alliance with the “New Alliance” (PANAL) — which was a breakaway, conservative faction in PRI, headed by Esther Elba Gordillo.  The Greens, who are normally PRI coalition partners, won five of the 84 communities.

PRD did better than might be expected, given it’s recent problems, winning 12 municipalities.  The PRD national coalition partners, Convergencia and the Workers’ Party (PT) each took one municipality.  PAN continues to do poorly in Central Mexico, capturing only eight municipal councils.

Nationally, PRI remains the largest political party and is recovering nicely from the disasterous 2006 Presidential elections.  Its recent string of victories MAY hold lessons for the U.S. Republican Party.  In 2006, the PRI had a terrible candidate (Roberto Madarozo) and — whatever the opposite is of a “coattail effect” cost the party in the Chamber and Senate dearly.   Party chair Beatriz Paredes Rangel has concentrated on rebuilding the “base” — which in the PRI’s case is the moderate left. This has proved a shrewd move, with neo-liberalismo, which sought to tie the Mexican economy to the United States, has fallen out of fashion during her tenure. Paredes has a reputation as “Ms. Clean” and, given the party’s lingering whiff of corruption it acquired oMalcolm Beithver its all too long stranglehold on national office, has a good shot at being Mexico’s first woman president in 2012.

Malcolm Beith, in The (Mexico City) News believes PRI will instead — trying for a more youthful image (like the Republicans in the U.S., the PRI has not been attracting younger voters, who go either to the conservative PAN or more leftist PRD, or the emerging Convergencia and Greens) — opt for State of Mexico Governor Enrique Peña Nieto.

Come 2012, the young governor may represent the nation. While the PRI’s resurgence on a local level and expected landslide in 2009 midterms are by no means a guarantee of the next presidency, the lack of a strong candidate from the floundering National Action Party, or PAN, has propelled Peña Nieto into the spotlight.

Beith thinks (and I agree) that Mexico is returning to the left, and the PRI’s real rival in 2012 is likely to be from the PRD (in whatever configuration and coalition it exists in by then).  The betting now is on Marcelo Ebrard Caubuson.  Ebrard has an edge, given the Capital’s domination of the news cycle, and his decision to invest in infrastructure redevelopment during his tenure… which,  given the economic crisis… makes similar proposals from the Calderon Administration appear to be copying PRD innovations.  Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will only be 59 in 2012, still young enough to be a viable candidate (there’s no age restriction, but its rare to see a candidate over sixty in Mexican elections).  Ebrard is a protege of AMLO, but I don’t see him running again.  If he has a future role in the system, it is probably in Convergencia, which could become the “left-er” wing of the leftist coalition, as an urban alternative to the more rural PT (Workers’ Party), which is (theoretically anyway) a Maoist party.

Unlike the United States, it’s all speculative at this point.  There are no “permanent campaigns” in this country, though there is plenty of jockeying for power within the parties themselves.  No one will seriously start looking at candidates for 2012 election until at least 2010… and we’ll be distracted with the bicentennial that year.

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