Mexico: All politics is intra-party

Fred Rosen, based in Mexico City, just sent me his latest column on Andrés Manuel López Amador's (AMLO's) campaign for vote-recount: Everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong (Miami Herald/El Universal, Saturday, August 26, 2006). He argues that "AMLO’s evidence of hands-on, election-day fraud has been weak and, in many cases as deliberately oblivious to the facts as the PAN’s general campaign," but that the campaign run by the apparent victor, Calderón was dirty and possibly unfair -- unless you believe, like U.S.party operatives, that slander is "fair" in politics. And, says Fred, while "public opinion" according to polls doesn't entirely trust López Obrador, it/they (the public) generally think a recount is in order. He concludes, "A certain acceptance of contradictions, a certain being-of-two-minds seems necessary to understand the frequently bizarre, occasionally surreal post-electoral process Mexico is now living through."

I just sent Fred this note, which I share with you:

Well, all your points seem well-argued, but where does that leave us? Or rather, where does it leave the Mexican electorate?

Some questions that I hope to see explored (maybe someone already had and you can point me to the analysis):

(1) If Calderón is truly convinced that he won a majority, why does he not endorse AMLO's demand for a recount? Or more specifically, what would be the political (or other) costs to him of doing so?

As a first guess, I'd think maybe he owes rather specific debts to PRI operatives, who most likely were involved in whatever vote-tampering took place. If he allows them to be embarrassed, they can surely make life very difficult for him (by claiming greater fechorías on the part of the PAN, for example, or by sabotaging a future Calderón government from their seats in Congress). He probably also fears embarrassing copartidarios who may also have been involved.

(2) What political future might AMLO have if he conceded? Probably not much: His heir as gobernador of the D.F. seems better positioned to take the reins of the PRD, don't you think? Or maybe not -- might the PRD split? It's more of a federation of groups than a tightly unified party on the PRI model, was my impression. And that federation could just fall apart into its component pieces (especially since the new Mexico City mayor's bona fides have been questioned by rivals in the PRD, and given obvious though muted friction between AMLO and Cárdenas). If I'm right, then AMLO's insistence on his recount campaign is as much a question of internal PRD politics as of a supposed national interest.

(3) What might be the PRD's prospects if AMLO conceded? Could Calderón reasonably expect to govern if PRD legislators, and the Mexico City government, opposed him fiercely? Is it reasonable to suppose that the PRD as a party might do quite well for itself, and position itself for power in the next sexenio, if AMLO were out of the picture?

That's my guess, but I'm just observing from a distance, and there must be many important issues I haven't considered.

(4) And what does the PRI have to gain or to lose in the outcome of this recount campaign?

In short, what I think would be most useful would be to look at the internal dynamics of the three major parties to clarify why they're doing what they're doing and possible results.

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