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Gender bender

28 March 2012

Like in a lot of countries, but not the United States, Mexican political parties have a mandated (or is that person-dated) gender quota.  No more than 60 percent of the candidates for national office can be of the same gender.  Not that it’s likely the majority will be female, so basically it comes down to meaning at least 40 percent have to be what Juanitajean would call “hooter toters”.

What complicates things is that Mexican legislative ballots include not only the candidate, but the “substitute” who steps into the job (should the candidate be elected, or appointed to a seat set aside for their party by proportional representation).   The last legislative election, the Greens abided by the letter of the law, but not the spirit.  Less an environmentalist party than the yuppie wing of the PRI (the “green” they seek being, it appears, yanquí dollars) , the Green female legislators  all quit their first day in office, so their male substitutes could take their place.

It was a set-up of course, but the Greens were within the letter of the law.  This year, maybe assuming that having a female presidential candidate was enough in the way of gender equity, the conservative PAN was arguing that by counting substitutes in their total candidate list, they met the required quota.  That didn’t fly with the elections commission (IFE), and at the last minute, the party either “convinced” or simply stuck 44 male candidates from their candidate list.  PAN and PRD (which was already in compliance) are running neck and neck in the polls for a distant second place finish in the elections right now, but wait… the PRI-Green ticket only is 20 percent female. 

Given only 48 hours to correct the situation (or, possibly be disqualified), it looks like the two smaller parties in the leftist coalition (PT and Movimiento Ciudadano) … which also lacks gender equity are going to be able to meet the deadline, while PRI is going to appeal to the Elections Tribunal.

I rather doubt PRI will be stuck from the ballot (which would radically change everyone’s assumptions about this election), and legislative candidates normally don’t garner much interest (the legislative races being more a test of party organization than of anything to do with the candidates themselves), but this is another of those unexpected changes that could radically alter our presumptions about this race.

Although PRI has been seemingly united,  like PAN and the leftist coalition, is a party of factions and “tribes” and competing interests.  How much, behind the scenes horse-trading was done between these various factions that all cordially (and often not so cordially) hate each other is anyone’s guess.  That PRI is stalling for time to find new candidates may mean that they are not as united as we think they are.

(UPDATE:  As of Wednesday afternoon, PRI and the Greens came up with a new candidate list that meets the gender equity rules… so much for taking it to a higher court).

Oh, and for those who might be wondering:  Diana Maroquín Bayardo did not make the ballot.  She claims it was because discrimination against her status as a transgender, but her party’s selected candidate is female.  Anyway, with only 48 hours to make changes, I don’t see any of the several parties  stalwarts having the time (or inclination) to make the radical changes and sacrifices  Maroquín did that would qualify them to overcome this particular hurdle to elective office.

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