Some developments meriting commentary took place last week in the preliminary campaigns for next year’s Mexican presidential election. We laid out the general pre-candidacy landscape in this post, for anyone joining us mid-program.
First in the PAN: Since we last wrote on this topic two weeks ago, Josefina Vázquez Mota’s stock has clearly risen. President Felipe Calderón spoke favorably of his former Education Secretary at an event following the official launch of her campaign for the nomination, prompting speculation that he was not averse to an eventual Vázquez Mota candidacy. This was considered to be a signal of some significance, as Calderón’s personal preferred candidate is believed to be Ernesto Cordero. For his part, Cordero wasted no time in grabbing back the spotlight by resigning as Finance Secretary on September 9 in order to formally launch his own drive for the PAN nomination. The top three contenders Vázquez Mota, Cordero and Senator Santiago Creel have stepped up their campaigns in recent days and were further solidified as the front runners when Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio dropped out of the race on August 29. While Jalisco Governor Emilio González Márquez is still talking up his campaign, the rumor mill has him tabbed as the next casualty, possibly following the Panamerican Games to be held in Guadalajara October 14 – 30 [UPDATE: González Márquez officially dropped out of the race on September 22]. The coming weeks should be interesting for PAN-watchers, as the top three pre-candidates make moves to try to build buzz and momentum. [Permalink inexplicably out of order, please go here for the rest of this post]
The PRD has been something like a spooky haunted mansion the past couple weeks – the unexpected noises coming out of it have us jumping for the chandelier. Things got entertaining when Mexico City Social Development Secretary Martí Batres sonorously criticized his boss, Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, for attending President Felipe Calderón’s annual address. Batres maintains that Calderón stole the 2006 election from Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and as such is an “illegitimate” president. Ebrard, enmeshed in a fierce battle with López Obrador for the PRD nomination, seized the opportunity to sack his irksome subordinate for questioning his authority to lead. Unburdening himself of Batres was a strategic move for Ebrard, as the city’s Social Development Department oversees social programs and resources key to shoring up popular support for the party in power. With the party and its allies split between AMLO and Ebrard for the nomination, leaving Social Development in the hands of staunch AMLO supporter Batres simply wouldn’t do. But here’s the spooky part: AMLO himself, instead of leaping on the opportunity to rail against Ebrard as authoritarian and intolerant (as his supporters hastened to do), placidly declared that the Mayor was free to make administrative adjustments to his team as he deemed convenient. This uncharacteristic indifference sent chills up our spine. When López Obrador, who sees conspiracies fill the air like so many falling snowflakes, waxes harmonious when his rival sacks one of his closest allies, something fishy is cooking behind the scenes. We’re still not sure what is happening back there, but cards will have to be played soon as the PRD has ostensibly agreed to conduct polls in October to gauge which of its two aspiring candidates has greater public support. [UPDATE: The polls are now being pushed back to November or later; formal dates have not been set]
For its part, the PRI announced it will define its presidential candidate on February 5, 2012. The news was largely met with yawns as Enrique Peña Nieto continues on track for the nomination with no substantive rivals in sight.
Read about our participation in the Mexico Today program here.