Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mexico's Electoral Labyrinth

In July, Mexico's most populated state, the State of Mexico (hehe, we had some problems figuring out new names for the states) will held its gubernatorial election.

Traditionally, since the late 1970s that race has been seen as the key match of the electoral calendar of the year, but mostly it has been seen as a general rehearsal for the general elections that are usually held one year after. This year, however, the situation will not be like that. The numbers in the state race will hardly match the expected numbers in the presidential election.

As far as the state election is concerned, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the old PRI, Enrique Peña Nieto, has a relatively easy advantage on most polls and will be, if nothing changes, the winner of the election, however such win will mean little or nothing for the outcome of the presidential election in 2006.

The “leftist” candidate (and I use such term as loosely as possible) of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) Yeidckol Polevensky Gurvitz has a dark history of name changes (she is not Polish as her name will hint), family conflicts and lies that have been haunting her electoral bid. Fortunately, she is far behind in the race with little or no chances of a come back.

Rubén Mendoza Ayala, the candidate of the National Action Party (PAN) started the race with some advantage, however poor decision-making, and the lack any relevant ideas has put him in an increasingly weak position. During the weekend, he starred one of Mexico’s worst displays of electoral behavior. While heading a rally with sympathizers in a small town, he charged against the owner of a pick-up truck filled with balls marked with propaganda of the PRI’s candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto. Moreover, he instigated the crowd to take over the balls and to hit the owner of the truck.

As of yesterday, the candidate had repaid the balls, and did a tour of some of Mexico’s news outlets claiming that was the victim of a conspiracy. Fortunately, someone in the crowd had a video camera on, so his speech instigating the crowd, insulting the PRI’s candidate and charging against the owner of the pick-up were all recorded in vivid colors and displayed by Mexico’s newscasts. In the video, it is possible to see Mendoza Ayala calling himself “ugly as all other Mexicans” and yet, claiming that the electoral race is not a beauty contest. Mendoza’s rant and rave came very close to mutiny.

As usual in contemporary Mexico, Mendoza has been talking of a media conspiracy instead of acknowledging his responsibility in the violent behavior of his sympathizers, while making all sorts of sexual innuendos with references to the balls, his alleged ugliness, and—to fully integrate the picture—with sexual insults that involve the mother of the candidate of the PRI.

What a shame.

In any case, I expect a close call in the election in the state of Mexico, with Enrique Peña Nieto as the winner, but with all sorts of pressure from the “leftist” PRD’s candidate who is running with the support of Mexico City’s mayor and future presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The candidate of the PAN, the party of Vicente Fox, the President of the country, will continue with his allegations of conspiracy and perhaps electoral fraud, which ultimately will be dismissed by his own party.

Perhaps the only good thing that will come out of this is the realization among the PRI leaders that they cannot waste time or effort in more internal conflicts. If so, they will be able to concentrate their efforts in the election of 2006, which will be—by all accounts—the toughest in Mexico’s history, a new and more painful labyrinth for which the old easy recipes of democratization and dismissal of the old authoritarian regime will not work any more.

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