Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, June 03, 2016

Mexican partisan politics

Partisan politics is what I expect to see in Mexico, but in the post-PRI era things are less predictable.

The view from Veracruz: An electoral contest in a troubled state is a test for the country’s ruling party
VERACRUZ calls itself “four times heroic” to commemorate the occasions in the 19th and 20th centuries on which it resisted foreign assaults. The election campaign taking place in the port city on the Gulf of Mexico, and in the surrounding state of the same name, is less edifying. Héctor Yunes Landa, the candidate of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for the governorship of the state, calls his rival, Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares, “a pervert, sexually sick”. He warns voters to “take care of the safety of your children.” Mr Yunes Linares, who leads a coalition that includes the conservative National Action Party and the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution, denies reports that he belonged to a paedophile ring. He says his opponent, who is also his cousin, is waging a “dirty war”.

With 8.1m people, Veracruz is Mexico’s third most populous state. Its mix of cities and rural settlements, indigenous and non-indigenous folk—and its oil, farming and manufacturing—make it a microcosm of the country as a whole…

Mr Duarte [the current governor] is loathed; his disapproval rating among veracruzanos stands at 83%, by one poll. Mr Yunes Linares has pledged to throw him in jail if he wins. Although the governor cannot run for re-election his unpopularity and the state’s poor economic performance may bring to an end 80 years of unbroken rule by the PRI…

The mud-fight in Veracruz shows why some voters are disenchanted with mainstream parties, but also why those parties continue to win elections. As its long rule of Veracruz suggests, the PRI remains a formidable machine, sometimes steamrollering legal norms as well as political opponents…

The same can be said of some other states. In Oaxaca a tip-off led to the discovery this month of a warehouse packed with fridges, children’s bicycles and groceries, along with PRI campaign literature, apparently intended for distribution to voters…

Mr Peña [Mexico's president] is not a bruiser like Mr Duarte. The president has taken big steps towards modernising Mexico, including opening energy and telecoms to competition and raising standards for state schools. And yet he cannot divorce himself entirely from the sleaze in Veracruz…

In the state of Nuevo León last year Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, better known as “El Bronco”, became the first governor to be elected without the support of a political party. Next month veracruzanos may elect Mr García, the left-wing Morena candidate, who rails against corruption…

In 2018 voters may turn on the same parties’ candidates in the presidential election. That could let in mavericks, such as El Bronco…

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