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Oct-15-2012 12:25printcomments

Post-Election Shake-ups in Mexico

Morena will get a chance to show off its strength during protests in the country’s main cities against the inauguration of Enrique Pena Nieto.

Disputed Mexican elections
Courtesy: Guardian UK

(LAS CRUCES, NM) - In the ongoing political realignments after last July’s disputed Mexican elections, new parties are taking shape while old ones grapple with questions of identity and direction.

On Saturday, October 13, veteran politicians formerly associated with parties of different ideological stripes made public their intention of launching a new party called Concertacion Mexicana. The announcement was made at a Mexico City gathering attended by approximately 2,000 people.

Prominent political actors spearheading the new force include Ciudad Juarez’s Manuel Espino, former national president of outgoing President Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN); Rene Arce, an ex-leader of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD); Patricia Olamendi, undersecretary for human rights in the foreign relations ministry during the Fox administration; Victor Hugo Cirigo, also once associated with the PRD; and Jorge Carlos Diaz Cuevo, former leader of the extinct Social Democratic Party, a short-lived political experiment which lost its legal registration after failing to gain the required number of minimum votes in the 2009 federal elections.

Espino said the founders of Concertacion Mexicana were motivated by the widespread “indignation” that exists in the country about the current crop of political parties, which already number seven at the national level. Espino said he will still adhere to the traditional conservative ideology of the PAN, but added that the new political grouping will aim at drawing together people from the left, the right and the center.

Espino was expelled from the PAN more than two years ago for supporting candidates from other political parties. In the 2012 presidential race, he actively campaigned for ultimate victor Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Both Arce and Cirigo, who are rumored to be brothers, bolted the PRD in 2009 and later supported the successful PRI candidate for governor of Mexico state.

As a senator, Arce also collaborated with the Mexican Green Party after his departure from the PRD, while Cirigo went on to become a deputy in lower house of Congress for Convergencia, now renamed the Citizen Movement Party.

Like Espino, other well-known faces identified with the Concertacion Mexicana initiative supported Pena Nieto in the 2012 elections. If Concertacion Mexicana succeeds in obtaining legal registration, it will then receive public funding to pay the salaries of functionaries, maintain offices and run political campaigns.

At a glance, the emerging political organization might be compared with U.S. advocates of a “third way” alternative that proposes a new centrist party to break Republican/Democratic polarization and gridlock. In this country, such proposals have so far failed to gain traction.

On the left, meanwhile, a new party could well be on the cusp of formation by followers of two-time presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who failed in his bid to have Mexico’s electoral court overturn the July election on grounds of excessive campaign spending and other alleged legal violations by Pena Nieto’s campaign.

Currently meeting at the district and state levels, Lopez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) is debating whether to continue as a social movement or transform itself into a political party. Although Lopez Obrador insists that no decision has been made yet, the former Mexico City mayor himself took the first step in the party direction when he announced last month his separation from the PRD and the other parties that formed the Progressive Movement coalition in the July elections.

The pro-party sentiment picked up steam at district meetings in the key state of Guerrero last week, where Morena delegates debated the pros and cons of founding a new party. Opponents argued that Mexico did not need another political party, and turning Morena into one would diminish public credibility and invite a host of opportunists into the fold. Proponents contended that social movements tend to dissipate over time, and lack the power of change elected representatives of Congress enjoy.

At a Zihuatanejo meeting attended by Morena representatives from the violence-ridden Costa Grande region, the pro-party partisans prevailed by a vote of 138 to 8. At a separate meeting in Tlapa that attracted delegates from the largely indigenous La Montana region, the vote was closer, 108-88, but the pro-party camp still came out on top. In the central city of Chilapa, meanwhile, representatives of 14 municipalities voted unanimously to go the party route.

A final decision on Morena’s status could come at the movement’s national congress scheduled for November 19-20 in Mexico City. Some observers consider as exaggerated claims that Morena counts nearly five million members, but the movement does have quite a large following and its transformation into a political party poses challenges for the future political relevance of the PRD leadership, or so-called “Chuchos,” who have had serious disagreements with Lopez Obrador.

While the “Chucos” mull a post-Lopez Obrador future, Morena and its leader lay claim to the mantle of nationalism, the legacy of Benito Juarez, the gains of the 1910 Mexican Revolution and anti-neo-liberalism. In remarks made at a Morena state congress in Zacatecas this past weekend, Lopez Obrador stressed that the movement has to set a new moral standard in national politics.

Said Lopez Obrador, “We don’t want diversions, vices, anti-democratic practices, cronyism or influence-peddling- none of the blights of the traditional parties, which have brought disaster to political and social organizations.”

Morena will get a chance to show off its strength December 1, when movement supporters plan to hold protests in the country’s main cities against the inauguration of Enrique Pena Nieto as Mexico’s new president.


El Sur, October 14 and 15, 2012. Articles by Noe Aguirre, Carmen Gonzalez Benicio and Luis Daniel Nava.
La Jornada/Notimex, October 13 and 14, 2012.
El Universal, October 13, 2012. Article by Horacio Jimenez.
Proceso, October 13, 2012.
Excelsior.com.mx, May 31, 2011. Article by Hector Figueroa and Roberto Jose Pacheco.

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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