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Out of sight, out of mind?

29 August 2009

PatrickCorcoran, at Ganchoblog, has been commenting on the ¨disappearance” of Felipe Calderón since managing to become the first true “lame duck” president.  Never having been accepted as a legitimate president by a significant portion of the electorate — and the Congress),  for the first three years of his sexenial Calderón at least had enough of a plurality within Congress to at least … with major compromises … to at least govern.  However,  from the start of his term on the first of December 2006, when PRD and allied deputies and senators prevented his being sworn in (as is cusomary) in the Chamber, Calderón has been reluctant to face elected opponents on their own turf.

In some ways it’s understandable.  The end of the PRI`s “perfect dictatorship” was forshadowed when a really tall PAN back-bencher named Vicente Fox paraded around with boxes tied over his ears in protest of the bullshit emanating from the podium.  Zedillo and Fox’s informes — constitutionally mandated “Reports to the Congress and the Nation” speeches every First of September — if not memorable for their rhetoric — were at least great theater.  And a chance for the elected deputies and Senators to at least let their constituents see that their representatives were at least trying to make their concerns known.  My favorite is still the Yucateca deputy who presented Fox with a funeral wreath as he mouthed platitudes about indigenous affairs.

Calderón — who cannot, as he did in Oaxaca, send in the army to quash dissenters in the name of public security — faced enough trouble with a congress in which at least his party was in control.  He faced a mini-revolt when the PRD and the FAP alliance sought to delay legislation by holding a congressional sit-in (and had his party respond by moving the Senate temporarily to a theater in order to eke out a quorum which still didn´t pass the legislation he demanded).  But, at the time, Calderón at least had the support (grudgingly, at least) of a good portion of the PRI, and could pull though.

His party made the fatal mistep of  mistaking their narrow majority for a mandate, coupled with investing too much effort into discrediting the PRD, while ignorning the PRI’s remarkable ability to develop a working concensus at the national level AND alienating the PRI leadership which — aside from resentment over allegations from PAN leaders of corruption — recognized the increasing unpopularity of certain Calderón iniatives they had formerly backed (like de-nationalization of key economic sectors and neo-liberal monetary policies) and were willing to consider ideas formerly rejected for the simple reason that those ideas had been proposed by the PRD. And — thanks to the vissitudes of national life (a flu epidemic, the collapse of the U.S. boom, the incresaing quagmire of the “war on drugs”) Calderón no longer even faces a divided opposition, but one in which a single opposition party contols both the chamber and the Senate.

Luckily for him, he was able to push through a “reform” last year to article 69 of the Constitution.  That had required the President to appear for the Informe in person.  He’ll be sending in a written report (can’t get around that) and MAYBE meeting with the legislators later … at his convenience… at his place, not theirs.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 30 August 2009 4:46 pm

    “His party made the fatal misstep of mistaking their narrow majority for a mandate, coupled with investing too much effort into discrediting the PRD, while ignoring the PRI’s remarkable ability to develop a working consensus at the national level.”

    This is all so true. I recall chatting with an analyst after the July 5 elections who said that the PAN’s big mistake – going back to its first victory in 2000 – was always trying to discredit the PRD, or, more accurately, always failing to attempt making deals with the PRD. The PAN instead made unwise deals with the PRI – deals that allowed for governors such as Ulises Ruiz of Oaxaca and Mario Marin of Puebla to remain in power, to name two examples. The PAN is now viewed by many Mexicans as being ethically little better than the PRI, but much less competent.

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