More on Mexico: What to watch for

Remember my questions about the Mexico election dispute? (See below: posting of 2006/08/27.) Fred Rosen has given me permission to post his very thoughtful replies. He's a keen observer, and was definitely the right man to ask about these issues.

Hi Geoff,

Good questions; the subject of lots of speculation and few hard answers.

First, lots of panistas and other anti-perredistas, more-or-less sure of their victory have endorsed a recount for the sake of legitimacy. The word is that Fox, for reasons unknown, convinced Calderón not to take that position. Maybe he (and other high-ranking panistas) knew of some fraud (perhaps, as you suggest, by PRI operatives in northern Mexico). Maybe they foresaw AMLO's civil disobedience and welcomed it as a way to marginalize (they thought) AMLO and the PRD. Maybe they think they can coopt the neoliberal wing of the PRI and rule a polarized Mexico more effectively than Fox was able to rule a "consensual" political class that emerged from the "voto útil." I think (thinking as a panista) that was a huge mistake. Combined with the bronca in Oaxaca and the regular drug-cartel shootouts, Mexico may well become ungovernable. Not good for business (though maybe good for the other half of the PAN culture: the Catholic Church).

Second, AMLO's political future is pretty cloudy no matter how this turns out. He is already mistrusted by the loyal cardenistas in the party for being too much of an opportunistic centrist. The street actions may have been directed at those militants who, based on no policy proposals whatsoever but rather on AMLO's willingness to take the struggle to the streets, now accept him as a "moral leader" of sorts. On the other hand, he is now mistrusted by those center-left voters whose votes he got on July 2 but who now may feel that he has auto-demonized himself, much the way he was pictured in the PAN commercials calling him a danger to Mexico. The street actions are mobilizing fewer and fewer people and are alienating a crucial sector of the electorate.

As for the PRD, they just won in Chiapas against a multi-party coalition. As a "collection of tribes" they have a lot more contenders than AMLO, and they (as a party) are not taking the brunt of the blame for the disruptions. PAN so effectively demonized AMLO as a human being that very little of it stuck to the party.

I don't think we know yet how this will all play out for the PRI. They have been marginalized -- for now. They have some pretty savvy operatives (like Elba Esther Gordillo) and could bounce back under new leadership. Most of those operatives are playing a waiting game now to see how they might play their strongest cards in the upcoming legislative season and the Calderón sexenio. My gut feeling, however, is that Elba Esther and the salinista neoliberals will drift into the PAN while the social democratic corporatists will join with their "primos hermanos" in one wing or another of the PRD. We'll see.

un abrazo,

No comments: