AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

Worker's Party Deputy Mario di Costanzo Tears Apart Carstens Economic Plan

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Coming Electoral Debacle

Mexico slips and slides towards its July 5th mid-term election rendez-vous with belief in the legitimacy of the electoral - or any other governmental - institutions at an all time low. Turnout is expected to be an anemic 30% at best, and of that 30%, a growing campaign to spoil the ballot paper with one big X is gaining ground even among people who usually don't agree on anything else. The result could be - even given the highly dubious premise of an above-board election - a pack of 500 diputados (deputies, members of Mexico's lower house known as the Camara di Diputados) each elected by a third or so of 30%, plus the ballot spoilers, making for a plurality of less than 10% of the adult, voting-age population in their districts.

Low turnouts, of course, help the party with the best get-out-the-vote machine and core of loyal - or simply purchased - voters (known in Mexico as the "hard vote," or voto duro, traditionally made up of loyal "unions" and other organizations whose members vote as blocs), and the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has 70+ years of experience in getting people to mark their any means necessary. As for the foundering PAN, eager to avoid an argument over the tanking economy, the tack continues to be to point menacingly at enemies within and without: viruses (I saved the world from swine flu, contends an inebriated-looking Calderon on national television) and drugs (Support the President in his fight against organized crime, implores party propoganda) and to count on a potential alliance with the national teachers' union headed by Elba Esther Gordillo and good, old-fashioned governmental vote-rigging to avoid an otherwise-cataclysmic result. And as for the floundering PRD (the PAN founders, the PRD flounders), divided between the New Left (Nueva Izquierda or "NI," which columinst Julio Hernández has suggested truly stands for Ni Izquierda: Not the Left) -which with outside help and yet another baseless ruling by the Electoral Tribunal has taken control of the party machinery - and supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, "divided we fall" takes on a whole new, and imminent meaning.

In response to the New-Left hijacking of the PRD, and the refusal on its part to re-establish the three-party "Por el Bien de Todos" coalition of 2006, López Obrador has been urging his supporters in most of the country to vote for the other two members of that coalition: Convergencia and the Worker's Party, or PT. The strategy here is two-fold: first, to spank the national PRD machinery, led by Jesus Ortega, and the state parties in places where they have effectively sold out (Obrador is supporting PRD candidates only in Mexico City and his home state of Tabasco); and second, to ensure that the other two parties get enough votes to maintain their registros - or registries, government funds for parties that exceed a 2% vote threshold. This is all part of Obrador's one foot in-one foot out dance with the party he helped found - hoping to be the party's standard bearer once again in 2012 by maintaining other avenues open in case the path becomes blocked if anyone by Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who has already all-but-openly declared his candidacy, as well as to maintain a loyal wedge of deputies in Congress over and against the Ortega-ite wing of the PRD, known as the Chuchos.

So look for a new Congress with the PRIAN (the PRI-PAN duopoly) majority at least as large as the current one, if not larger, with the coopted sectors of the PRD added on, leaving little room open to the citizens' movement that struggled so hard, and successfully, to avoid PEMEX being privatized in the last session. Look for PEMEX privatization to be back on the table, as well as the proposal killed off in the Fox years to extend the value-added IVA tax to food and medicines, another blow to a recession-weary public, and Calderon's continued push for expanded executive powers that has even Senator 'Don' Beltrones openly worried about the progression of the nation in the direction of fascism (see Calderon's machine-gun military arrests of ten elected officials in Michoacan, without charges). In legislative terms, in short, things do not bode well for the next three years. What the non-party movements will be able to achieve on the streets through their activism is the only speck of hope on a gray legislative horizon.

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