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Rarely pure and never simple: part I

11 March 2012

The political landscape could get slightly more confusing this week if the Elections Commission (IFE) blesses Manuel Clouthier Carrillo ‘s petition to enter the four person contest.

Clouthier, as the namesake son of “Maquío” — Manuel Clouthier Rincon — is heir not just to a fabled name in not only Mexican conservatism, but in the struggle for a more democratic Mexico, as well.

Maquio the Father...

Maquío, as a prominent and progressive Cuilicán businessman as well as a socially conservative Catholic, was a credible PAN leader, as the conservative party sought to present itself not as an amalgam of counter-revolutionaries (the old rich, the Catholic Church and fascists) but as a modern rightist party defending capitalism and “traditional values” in the name of individual liberty.

While, of course, PAN then — and now — has always had to make room for its less-savory factions, Maquilo’s 1988 Presidential campaign presented PAN as a pragmatic conservative alternative to the ruling PRI and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas’ National Democratic Front.  That PAN came in third was no surprise, but making common cause with the parties in the Democratic Front  who had their probably victory stolen from them, forced the administration of Salinas Gourtari to accept massive changes in the political system that spelled the end of automatic PRI dominance.

That Maquío was killed in an auto accident less than a year after  Salinas de Gotari was sworn into office, blessed PAN in another way too… giving the party a democratic figure to add to their pantheon of dead heroes, one less troubling to the voters (and historians) than previous leaders, sincere but ineffectual theorists or bug-eyed enthusiasts for some of the darker strands within the party fabric.  Clouthier’s post election “shadow cabinet” (a forerunning to Lopez Obradór’s “alternative presidency” after the disputed 2006 election) brought into national leadership PAN pragmatists like Diego Fernández de Cevallos and Vicente Fox, at the expense of the ideologues.

Mexico has become a multi-party state, although PAN less-pragmatic elements have, if anything, been emboldened by their party’s success.  While Felipe Calderón is from the pragmatic wing, he — like Vicente Fox — has depended on support from the ideologues.  Manuel junior (Clouthier Carrillo)’s sister, Tania, left the party in disgust over its tolerance of fascists and religious bigots a couple of years ago.

Clouthier Carrillo,representing Sinaloa in the Senate, is also owner of the state’s most important newspaper, Noroeste.  Though his paper, and his political clout, he pushed the PAN-PRD coalition ticket that pushed PRI out of the state governor’s office… only to find (as did the rest of the state) that the compromise candidate (a PRI defector to PAN) hasn’t lived up to the expectations of either party, or, rather, or, as in Mazatlán — where the coalition backed a PAN staltwart — there is less a progressive/pragmatic coalition than one reflecting the more reactionary elements in PAN, coupled with a reluctance to change the political culture that flourished under PRI.

... the Son...

His break with the party, well covered by his own papers, as well as the national press, was a much bigger news story than his sister’s defection.  After all, he carries the fabled name, and his open flirtation with MoReNa (the Lopez Obrador leftist coalition), and the possibility that he would run for office on the Workers Party (more or less the old Communist Party) would have been something like George Bush III suddenly deciding to run for office as a Socialist (if they had socialists in the United States, that is).

That might have been too much to swallow (although it would have been fun to watch his paper’s editorial changes, especially in my favorite section, the society pages), and now Clouthier Carrillo is seeking to run for President as an independent candidate.

This is a problem.  Thanks to those PAN pragmatists and the PRD (born from Cardenas’ National Democratic Front and now the main party in the MoReNa coalition), the political system was opened up to opposition and change, though political parties.  There is state funding for PARTIES, and plurinomial seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are based on PARTY support in elections, as is the revenue doled out to media by the election commission.  IFE, the elections commission, has consistently rejected the idea of independent candidates, simply because there is no mechanism for providing for their equal access to media, or for preventing the independent from conducting a campaign outside the strict ground rules set out for electioneering.

That IFE is considering Clouthier Carrillo’s request — based on a novel interpretation of the Mexican constitution’s guarantee of all rights recognized by international treaty — to my mind suggests something else is going on.

The PAN candidate, Josefina Vásquez Mota, appears to be too much in the pocket of the “piety wing” of the party.  PANAL, the usual spoiler that seems designed to draw off votes from any challenger to the status quo, has put up an environmentalist, Gabriel Quadri de la Torre, possibly to draw some votes away from the Green-PRI coaliton (PANAL’s party president is Jorge Kawagi, formerly the Green Party President, and the publisher of Cronica del Hoy), possibly from MoReNa, supposedly for the benefit of PAN.

... and HOLY COW!

So, it’s not too much of a stretch to see Clouthier Carrillo’s proposed candidacy (which seems to be supported by Cronica del Hoy) as possibly designed to peel off some PAN pragmatists from Vásquez Mota… or… given the growing support for López Obrador, who has been working mightily to woo the business community (and may be enjoying more success than is otherwise reported), perhaps Clouthier Carrillo’s bid to enter the race is an attempt to cut support for a socialist willing to work with capitalists… a pragmatist.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 March 2012 10:15 am

    FYI, I think you mean Maquío, not Maquilo.

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