Diana Murray Watts and Eric L. Olson, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 2/2/2012
On January 31st, the three remaining candidates for the PAN’s presidential nomination met at the party’s national headquarters for a second debate before party members and affiliated members chose their candidate on February fifth. The nationally broadcast debate was the second between former Congressional leader Josefina Vázquez Mota, former Treasury Secretary Ernesto Cordero, and former Senator Santiago Creel. It was also the first held under new rules designed to encourage interaction and debate between the candidates. Previous debates had been criticized for their tameness because debate rules only allowed candidates to present their positions but not address or debate the positions of others.
Several issues were on the agenda at the debate including the fight against poverty, sustainable development, justice and security. Given the importance of the security debate, we provide the following excerpts from the candidates’ declarations during the debate. (The translations are our own and unofficial).
Santiago Creel Miranda
“The best way to achieve economic growth is through security. If there is no security, a climate for investment cannotexist; and if there is no investment, then everything else matters less.”
“I am qualified to bring peace and tranquility to families through a new public security strategy that, at the same time, is equally important in order to reach economic development,” he added.
“The best way to defend the human rights of Mexicans is with public security. This is why I want to face and fix the problem of violence in the country through a strategy that is different from that of the current administration. I acknowledge the good things that have been accomplished by this administration, but my strategy will follow a different path.”
Josefina Vázquez Mota
“It is urgent that we build a better and trustworthy police, police officers who can defend families from the crimes that hurt them the most: robbery, homicide, kidnapping, and extortion.”
“When speaking on the importance of federalism it is unavoidable to speak about the armed forces, who will return to their quarters only when you [Mexican citizens] feel you can count on police officers that are trustworthy. This is a concern that people in Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, and even in Michoacán have expressed to me.”
“Any measures taken to help empower the citizenry are something that we should support. Anything that allows the Mexican state to generate the (congressional) majority required to move forward with the structural reforms that are needed in the country should be promoted.”
“…there must be progress so that not only the citizenry but also the judiciary can take the initiative to present legal reforms to Congress, which will enable the Supreme Court of Justice to function.”
The one-hour debate was moderated by journalist Leonardo Curzio, who brought to the table a specific set of questions that had been determined ahead of time. Unfortunately, new debate rules allowing for more interaction between candidates did not generate the kind of lively debate that was expected.
For example, Vázquez Mota appeared to ignore Cordero’s questions regarding her alleged absence from 6 per cent of the 135 voting sessions in Congress. Instead, she spoke of her political accomplishments and cited a letter that President Calderón had sent to congratulate her for her commitment to Congress. Thus, Cordero was perhaps the only candidate who posed a direct question during the debate and did not get a direct response from his political opponent. Outside the debate, Vázquez Mota reached to the Mexican media to publicly announce that she had attended 133 of the 135 congressional sessions.
In our estimation, candidates were typically long on emphasizing the importance of an issue but short on specific proposals for addressing the challenges posed by crime and violence. As for last Tuesday’s debate, the candidates did not enter into a deeper discussion about the issues of major concern to Mexicans, and consequently missed an opportunity to put forward creative ideas and solutions.