My day of reflection
The “days of reflection! will soon descend in anticipation of Sunday’s mid-term elections. All campaigning will stop at midnight tonight (bliss!!!) — theoretically to give the voters time to sort through all the propaganda — and even Mexico City will go “dry” Saturday and Sunday. Whether the latter, as we have always been told, really does cut down on election day violence (and shenanigans) or only encourages them, is another story.
The big worry among the politicos is not that independent candidates are likely to win a few elections (notably, the governorship of Nuevo Leon… which has the “usual sources” in the media, like The Guardian and The New York Times — and a few rare birds like The Sydney Morning Herald — all paying attention to a Mexican mid-term election), but that the voters will either stay home, spoil their ballots, or worse… violence usually being blamed on “radical teachers” in Guerrero and Michoacán.
In states like Guerrero, where the political parties, including the PRD (or especially the PRD) have been discredited, the left-wing media was generally supportive of calls to boycott the election, both as a means of expressing rejection of the existing parties and the party system, and as a way of de-legitimizing the entrenched “political class” (usually overlapping the economic powers — including gangsters) within those states. However, with the strong polling by MORENA (Lopez Obrador’s new populist front) in the Federal District, and the very real possibility that minor parties, and sense that the bums will be thrown out, the chattering classes and “pundits” are all now urging the voters to turn out and vote… in the words of one columnist for the generally unreadable Mexico City News … for “the candidate that least offends”.
I sense a trend in the hispanic world here. The strong showing by PODEMOS and allies in Spain, as well as the on-going scandal in Guatemala and the growing calls for President Lobos’ resignation in Honduras, as well as the stronger than anticipated support for new and minor parties here in Mexico, suggest that insurgency — and a rejection of the “same old-same old” — is growing, but at the same time, the political classes find themselves saddled with the “same old-same old” means to respond to citizen demands. That is, creating political parties, whose candidates are for the most part recycled from the mainstream groups, repackaged as something new (like El Bronco, a 30+ year PRI operative) or just rebranded as the smarter, cleaner kid-brother of the discredited elder party (the Greens as an alternative to PRI, or MORENA as an alternative to PRD).
I question whether political parties are not more a hindrance to democracy than anything else, and whether the 18th century method of voting by geographical district (rather, than say, social and/or economic interest) is necessary… and whether political parties can represent the people’s varied interests in any meaningful way. Since systemic change is not possible at this time, perhaps its all to the good that minor parties and individuals are seen as a valid option by the people… who — one hopes — will be able to throw the bums out when they become too entrenched or fail to adjust to meet the needs of the people at the next election.