Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 8/22/2011
It was a busy week for election stories, with the PRD moving closer to unity and establishing its candidate selection process; the PAN field staying wide open and contentious; and the PRI being accused of vote buying and money mismanagement practices in two states.
The PRD leadership decided this past weekend in a 12-hour summit that the party’s candidate would be selected by an open poll of party members. The two primary candidates, Marcelo Ebrard and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), both came out in support of the decision.
The vote will be very interesting. A BGC-Excélsior poll released last week showed that while Ebrard polls best amongst the general population by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent over AMLO, the PRD rank and file favors AMLO: he polls 68 percent, compared to Ebrard’s 32 percent. The question facing PRD members is whether current “electability” numbers should be the principal criteria in deciding on a candidate.
The party also agreed to allow alliances with other parties in the 2012 election, though after the vote, AMLO stated that this should apply only to other left-wing parties. A confident PRD president, Jesús Zambrano, said that the Left is ready to govern, and that the PRI is not invincible despite its significant lead in current presidential polls.
The theme amongst PAN contenders the past week was less about unity and more about the internal contest. Tensions arose in particular over the question of spending on image promotion. Santiago Creel, who recently took a leave from his Senate seat to run for president, told the press that his costs are low, while Congresswoman Josefina Vázquez Mota’s are too high. Treasury Secretary Ernesto Cordero has been keeping up as well: his spending on his image has increased 633 percent in two months.
Creel has been pushing other possible PAN candidates to leave their official posts in order to avoid the impression that they are using government resources and their official posts to run for office. Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio stated that he would make a decision soon, but added that he was well-aware of election rules and that there was nothing illegal about considering a run as a public official. Vázquez Mota, however, announced that she plans to step down from the Chamber of Deputies by the end of August. Jalisco Governor Emilio Gónzalez will leave his post by November. Cordero, the Finance Minister, has not announced a departure date yet.
Creel still leads amongst PAN candidates, according to a new El Universal/Buendía & Laredo poll. Among the general public, Creel polls 21 percent and Vázquez Mota 16 percent. Among PAN party members, 32 percent favor Creel and 27 percent prefer Vázquez Mota.
The party has still not defined its internal selection process, though it has hinted at some sort of primary.
There were two particularly interesting stories this week about the PRI. In the first, a new Mitosfky poll shows that any PRI candidate would win the presidency if the vote were to take place today. Enrique Peña Nieto’s 63 percent and his fellow priísta Manlio Fabio Beltrones’ 24 percent both surpassed other possible candidates from the PAN and PRD. The PRI has not determined its internal election process yet.
The second story focused on the PRI’s use of discount cards, jewelry giveaways, gym deals, and free meals to curry favor with voters in Queretaro. From the Associated Press article:
“The PRI, which had a long history of corruption and vote-buying to stay in power, now says it’s a renovated party dedicated to open democracy as it makes a strong campaign to regain the presidency in 2012.
But others argue the discount cards handed out under PRI’s “Family Savings” program are just a more sophisticated twist on old party practices — this time aimed at the middle class, where the swing votes lie.”
A spokesman for the Queretaro Electoral Institute, which enforces state election law, said it has received no complaints about the program. José Luis Baez Guerrero, the state president of the PAN, said he is investing for possible violations.
Felipe Calderón’s sister, Luisa María Calderón, has officially entered the Michoacán gubernatorial race on behalf of a PAN alliance for the November election.
As for next year’s mayoral election in Mexico City, a new Reforma poll showed that among possible contenders, Beatriz Paredes (PRI) would have the support of 52 percent of chilangos, or Mexico City residents, compared to 28 percent for Carlos Navarette (PRD) and 21 percent for Demetrios Sodi (PAN).