The Week in Review: 10/24/2011

The PAN raises eyebrows with its internal selection process, the PRD’s internal fissures become more visible, and The Financial Times weighs in on Enrique Peña Nieto.



The PAN decided on its candidate selection process for next year’s presidential and congressional races on October 19th. First, the party leadership concluded that its internal presidential candidate selection process would be a “closed election,” as it was for the 2000 and 2006 presidential races. Only active and affiliated members- totaling approximately1.8 million – will be able to choose between Josefina Vázquez Mota, Santiago Creel, and Ernesto Cordero. [Differences between affiliate and active party membership can be found here in Spanish.] PAN President Gustavo Madero, came under fire for what critics, including presidential contenders themselves, called a “dedazo” (handpicking; literally “tapping”).

Vázquez Mota and Creel have both publically criticized the process, arguing the number of voters was inflated, and have issued a written request for it to be reconsidered. Some have suggested the process would favor Ernesto Cordero, arguing that he is President Felipe Calderón’s preferred candidate (or delfín, in the Mexican press) and the President will use his enormous influence over party members to benefit Cordero. Madero has denied this, and countered that the process would be transparent. [Read more about this (in Spanish) from a group of experts on Animal Político.]

Second, the announced process affects the selection of candidates for the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies races. Seventy-five percent of PAN candidates for the Senate and 47% for the Chamber of Deputies in majority districts will be selected directly by the party leadership without consultation with party membership.  This decision was taken for a variety of reasons, according to party leaders, including the lack of a credible membership role in some districts and threats from organized crime in others.

Lastly, the Mexico Institute co-hosted along with the Inter-American Dialogue an open forum in Washington DC for Josefina Vázquez Mota.  Video, in Spanish, from this session can be found here.


PRD is facing major internal challenges in the contest for party president, which calls into question its ability to enter the 2012 election in a unified fashion. Elections for delegates in five states, scheduled for October 23rd, were abruptly cancelled when tensions soared between factions loyal to presidential contenders Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Marcelo Ebrard. Current PRD President Jesús Zambrado admitted that the cancellation was not helpful to the PRD’s image, and has called for a dialogue to reduce the divisions. The elections are expected to resume next Sunday.

Reuters has an in-depth piece on Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s effort to “soften” his image. With up to 43 percent of the population holding a negative view of him, AMLO has spent recent weeks pushing the message: “Don’t be fooled, I’m not against businessmen,” as he said recently. From the article:

“Lopez Obrador, 57, is trying to win back former supporters projecting a softer image and tackling claims that he would wreck the economy if he were president. He recently flew to the United States, Mexico’s biggest trading partner, and pledged in a speech in Washington to fight monopolies and give priority to small and medium-sized firms.

The U.S. trip was immediately followed by a visit to Spain, the largest Mexican export market in Europe and home to a number of the most powerful banks in Mexico. Lopez Obrador also organized a business forum in the industrial northern city of Monterrey, a bastion of Calderon’s conservative National Action Party, or PAN.”

Roy Campos, director of the Mitosfky polling company, says: “[AMLO] has a more emotive and conciliatory message, but he maintains the discourse that the left wants to hear.”

The PRI 

The Financial Times ran a profile of Enrique Peña Nieto, arguing that the eight months to the polls “seem more like a minefield than an open highway to the presidency of Latin America’s second-largest economy.”

That article notes two potential pitfalls for Peña Nieto’s campaign: first, electoral campaign laws prevent Peña Nieto (as well as all candidates) from “electioneering” until next March and second, the accusations from President Calderón about the PRI’s links to organized crime may worry some voters (see last week’s article for more). Peña Nieto denies the charge, and has called the government’s security strategy “hasty:” According to The Financial Times:

The implication [of Peña Nieto’s statement] was that the military’s role in Mexico’s savage war with the drugs cartels, which has so far led to more than 40,000 deaths, should be reconsidered.

This could be a vote winner. Mr Peña Nieto still insists on the need more to prevent crime, on better organising public security forces, and making the justice system more effective, even if it is unclear how he would do any of this.

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