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If he limps like a lame duck…

16 July 2009

The [Mexico City] News still has the crappiest retrieval system I know of (and no copyright information appears on the on-line edition that I can find), so — while I’m including a link — I’ve also pasted Ricardo Castillo’s article on the election and its effect on the parties at the end of this post.

While noting that both the PRD and PAN (both of which did poorly in the 5 July elections) are seriously discussing reorganization, two startling facts come out.

First, though less important for the immediate future, is that the PRD meeting this weekend is looking at healing the rift between the various “tribes” within the leftist party, as well as rebuilding the coalition with the two smaller parties of the left. While neither Cuauhtemoc Cardenas (whose 1988 run for the presidency — and is probable victory in that race, though Carlos Salinas de Goutari “won” — on a coalition of leftist and reformist tickets led to the party’s founding) nor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (whose coattails gave the party it’s greatest strength when he also may have won the presidency in 2006) attended, neither did the present party chair, Jesus Ortega.

Ortega — whose “chuco” faction, won in a bitter intra-party squabble, is seen by many to have been a divisive figure in what is an already fragmented coalition of interests.  Carlos Narvatte, the PRD Senate leader, is calling for unity, and opening the party to all factions.

More important were the PAN meetings, also this previous weekend.  Party Chair German Martinez — a personal choice of Felipe Calderon — was unceremoniously sacked even before the last votes were counted.  Calderon himself is in trouble.  PAN”s Senate leader, Gustavo Madero, told the press that — within the Party — “President Calderón has only one vote, he is just like everyone else here. We can no longer speak about the president’s candidate.

Calderon, remember, was not President Vicente Fox’s choice for his successor, forcing a bruising primary on the party, and in some ways, forcing the “pragmatic wing” (the pro-business wing of Fox) to the sidelines in party control.  Which the party faithful now see as a strategic error.

Quacks in the system

Quacks in the system

With Calderon being pushed aside by his own party, he will be the first “lame duck” president we’ve had.  Fox and Zedillo both had to deal with opposition legislatures, but Zedillo, who had been pushing to separate his party (PRI) from the government, faced a divided opposition in the legislature — split between the left and the right — which meant he could find middle ground from either side for any given administration proposal.  And, while Fox’s PAN was in a slight minority the last three years of his “sexenial” (six-year term), he could count on support from the “dinasauro” wing of PRI which was hungry for the trappings of relevance.  Fox could also count on the support of Esther Elba Gordilla, who — after the party stripped her of her central committee seat, and then purged her — still maintained some pull through the small Nueva Alliaza party.

Nueva Allianza will have a few seats within the new legislature, but, their short history is that of surviving by allying themselves to the “powers that be”.  There may be no upside for them in working with PAN in the next legislature, and they’ll be more likely to try to swing PRI legislation to the right.  PRD is likely to work with its two “junior partners” and regain its role as a leftist bloc that can swing legislation.  But — with PRI in a majority by itself (and a plurality with the Greens), this will be the first time in Mexican history that the President cannot command the legislature since Madero’s short 1911-1913 Presidency.

Madero’s Presidency ended with a coup (U.S. sponsored, as everyone should know), but there was support for replacing him even before the coup, in part because he lost control of the legislature.  I don’t see anything quite that dramatic in the next few years (despite those who claim that because the War of Indepence started in 1810, and the Revolution in 1910, there has to be a violent upheaval in 2010.  A series of two does not mean a series of three).

lame duck_tCalderon’s programs are probably dead however.  The “War on Drugs” is losing more support every day, and — bolstered by the Human Rights Watch Report on military abuses in that “war” the PRI (and PRD) both have sufficient political rationale  for drastically reducing the military operations, and — being nationalist parties — are less likely to be swayed by U.S. interests.   Besides which, revenge is sweet, and many in both parties were incensed at the accusations that they were more “corrupted” than the presidential party.

The economy has not gotten better, and the leftist proposals look better all the time.  Kiss selling off PEMEX good-bye, and say hello to more domestic spending programs at the expense of “free-trade” orthodoxies.  PRI chair, Beatriz Paredes, has been trying to pull the party back to its left-wing traditions, though there is some concern that Carlos Salinas (and his “neo-liberal” backers) still have too much power in the party.  While some of the PRI may back Calderon on economic issues, that isn’t a sure bet.

It would be a logistics nightmare if Calderon were to resign because of the need for a interim president to serve until the 2010 Elections, at which time an “Internal President” would be elected to a two year term, and there is no guarantee that any president appointed by the legislature would be from the same party as the sitting president.  The only time there has been an internal and interim presidency (and it got messy, when the internal president then quit before the end of his short term, forcing the legislature to select another interim president), the legislature and the presidency were firmly in the control of Plutarcho Elias Calles, with a single party dominating the country.

And, of course, anyone serving as president — even for a day — would be ineligible to ever hold the office again.

The chances of a Lopez Obrador presidency — even for a couple of months?  Nil.  The chance for massive policy change?  Very, very high.

(The News article after the “jump”)

Parties regroup to prepare for 2012
(Ricardo Castello, The News 14-July-2009)

The midterm electoral scare, which resurrected the Institutional Revolutionary Party to power, has the two leading contending parties running for their lives.

The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) top leadership met in the state of Michoacán over the weekend hoping to put an end to the infighting that splintered the party and sent many important members looking for shelter with other institutions.

In its discussions, the PRD said it welcomes alliances with the Labor and Convergence parties to heal all wounds. Though minor, these two parties appeal to the same left-leaning vote the PRD does.

Senator Carlos Navarrete even said that the PRD needs to be “founded again” in order for it not only to keep the gains it has made in its short 20-year history, but to gain ground for the presidential election in 2012.

The currently-in-power, National Action Party (PAN), on the other hand, is also restructuring from top to bottom as it prepares the ground to elect a new party leader, after the resignation of former president Germán Martínez, who led the PAN to disaster.

As it stands, elected party officials are even taking power away from would-be spiritual leader, President Felipe Calderón, who appointed Martínez and allowed him to damage the party’s structure.

Senate leader Gustavo Madero, who is the top elected official in the PAN besides the president, has put a stop to Calderón’s influence inside the PAN.

In the upcoming election for a party leader, “President Calderón has only one vote, he is just like everyone else here. We can no longer speak about the president’s candidate”, Madero said.

The PAN should be electing its new president at the end of July.

At the PRD, the splinter was so great that last week all elected officials in the country gathered in Mexico City without the presence of party president Jesús Ortega. At the weekend meeting in Morelia, Ortega made it clear to them that they were elected because of the PRD, and not because of individual officials.

Senator Navarrete made a call for unity “without excluding anybody” meaning that leaders such as former presidential candidates Andrés Manuel López Obrador and party founder Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas must be included in remaking of the PRD.

“We are in a process of evaluation, cooling off, and seeing where we stand”, Navarrete said.

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