La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Belated Mexican politics update

Last Sunday, the PAN held its first stage of the internal election to determine its presidential candidate for 2006. The forerunners were Santiago Creel (Secretary of State under Fox) and Felipe Calderon. Caleron won with 45.6% of the vote, while Creel came in second with 35.5%. (You can listen to audio of the press conference online.) Creel had been criticized for his involvement with the desafuero of Lopez Obrador and more recently, his approval of gambling concessions that were ultimately rescinded.

Since the elections, some have asked what high levels of abstention mean for the democratic process within the PAN. You can visit Calderon's website and read a summary of his experience.

Updated to add: You can visit the PAN's election website and view a map of the remaining elections.

The remaining stages include votes in the North and South and the D.F., but it's likely that Calderon will stay in front. Creel is unlikely to garner a larger margin in many of those states, and will certainly do worse in his home district, Mexico City. His performance as Secretary of State and participation in the desafuero has not endeared him to many, including many PANistas (who in the past voted for the PAN as a vote against the PRI). Cardenas Jimenez is a very distant third, and while he may do well in his home state of Jalisco (where he was governor), Calderon also has yet to compete in his home state of Michoacan (though his ties to the state are perhaps weaker than Cardenas's ties to Jalisco). I think Cardenas Jimenez will have a difficult time overcoming Calderon. Calderon has had a high profile in the party (former President of the Party in the late 1990s) and publicly, but has also avoided major posts with controversy (with the Secretary of Energy being a possible exception), which gives him legitimacy without all the baggage of Creel.

That Calderon had already begun distancing himself from Fox and Creel will only be to his advantage, now that some claim that Fox is trying to interfere in the internal struggle tearing apart the PRI.

Essentially, as I have explained before (but am too lazy to dig through the archives to find the links), the President of the PRI was Madrazo and the Secretary General (#2) of the PRI was La Maestra or La Profesora or Elba Esther. Madrazo wants to be the PRI candidate for President of the country, but to do so, he must step down as President of the PRI. The statutes of the PRI dictate that the Secretary General would automatically take his place. Since La Maestra is such a polarizing figure and many PRIistas do not support her, this has caused many problems. Non-Elbista PRIistas fear, and perhaps rightly so, that once in control of the PRI as President, she would control the PRI with an iron-fist as she has the teachers' union for decades.

This means that since April, the PRI has been trying to figure out some way to allow Madrazo to step down without allowing Gordillo (Elba Esther) to entrench herself in the PRI Presidency. Talks were made of a pact allowing a short-term transition and then the election of a new PRI President and CEN (National Executive Committee), but few of the PRIistas trust each other to not defect from any pact, and again, probably rightly so. [There's probably a really neat game that could be used to model the interactions, and since the PRI institutions are weak, defectors are probably not likely to be punished, making cooperation that much more difficult.]

It seems that the PRI figured out a way to get a new President without allowing La Maestra to take the post, but it involved calling a meeting and making some changes and decisions that didn't necessarily follow the letter of PRI statutes. And, unfortunately for the PRI, there is now external oversight of internal party processes, including a court designed to resolve conflicts and hear disputes, to which La Maestra filed a petition contesting the decision to replace Madrazo with Mariano Palacios Alcocer. The tribunal has decided only some of the issues under review, granting a small procedural win to the PRI, but the main claim by La Maestra has yet to be reviewed. I wouldn't bet on the remaining cases filed by either side.

Madrazo is now saying that Fox has been working with La Maestra to undermine the PRI and is especially interested in supporting the Elbistas now that his horse in the PAN race has lost. (There have been other instances where the media have suggested that Fox and La Maestra have formed pragmatic alliances. Again, too lazy to look up my previous posts, but they exist.) There's talk of expelling her from the Party, but she won't go without a fight. (Though she has had several health problems in recent years that may make it more difficult.)

The other five pre-candidates for the PRI (remember Todos Unidos Contra Madrazo, TUCOM?) are notably quiet during this fracas. I'm thinking it can only hurt Madrazo and make him even less likely to "win" the PRI nomination, though I wouldn't be surprised if he was still nominated.

(What's the difference? Well, I think this public struggle with La Maestra will only hurt even more his public image and he will lose any waning public support he might have had. Since internal PRI election procedures are closed to registered members of the party and the potential for fraud is still real, I wouldn't be surprised if Madrazo was still "elected" to be the PRI candidate. I think he's one of the weaker PRI candidates in a race against Calderon and Lopez Obrador, though.)

In a Calderon, Lopez Obrador, and Madrazo race, I would put my money on either Calderon or Lopez Obrador. I think Jackson would be a poor choice, too, given his role in the desafuero. It's going to be an interesting election year.

posted by Michelle @ 10:17 AM,


At 9/15/2005 2:36 PM, Anonymous Matthew Shugart said...

Regarding the PAN internal election, I thought last Thursday's was just one stage of a multi-phase process.

At 9/15/2005 4:04 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

You're right, the post wasn't clear. I've clarfied above and added a paragraph explaining why I think Calderon will stay in the lead.


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