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Column 121205 Andrade

Monday, December 12, 2005

 

Electoral coalitions formed in Mexico

 

By Enrique Andrade González

 

The Mexican Green Ecological Party (PVEM) has traditionally been a party of alliances.  In the 2000 campaign it joined the National Action Party (PAN), when Vicente Fox won Mexico’s presidential election, although subsequently it was the first party to abandon the so-called “alliance for change.”

 

That break with the government of President Fox was absolute, and since then it has moved “the greens” closer to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in a strategy that has benefited both parties.  Together they have since participated in, and won, 11 state elections; a simple majority in the Chamber of Deputies in 2003 (out of 500 seats, the PRI took 224, and the PVEM 17); and they beat the National Action Party (PAN) by more than 20 points in last July’s gubernatorial election in the State of Mexico, that is home to nearly 13 percent of Mexico’s voters.

 

It was Roberto Madrazo, when he was president of the PRI (2002 to November 2005), who led the move to close ranks with the PVEM.  In fact, the two parties have had an alliance since 2003 for the midterm elections, yet each has been able to maintain their individual images and, in Congress, present their own legislative proposals.

 

So the recent announcement of a PRI-PVEM coalition for 2006, with Madrazo as their presidential candidate, was not surprising.

 

For the Green Party it will also be an opportunity to increase their number of representatives in both houses of Congress, and gain a greater presence nationwide as the parties promote common candidates for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

 

Moreover, with this accord the PVEM as of now should be able to gain approval of its legislative proposals in the Senate.  There are currently 58 PRI senators, plus five from the PVEM, out of a total of 128.

 

Both parties have registered the coalition with Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), which means they will present a single platform.  As well, at the appropriate time they will jointly register 32 slates of candidates for the Senate, 300 for popularly elected federal deputies, and 200 deputies who will be elected by proportional representation.

 

For the PRI, the Green Party represents the youthful face of the party.  The PVEM is a party with fresh health and education proposals that are popular with candidates who are under the age of 40.  And their initial presidential candidate, Bernardo de la Garza, who withdrew from the contest in favor of Madrazo, is a young politician with a positive image who will surely play an important role in the 2006 presidential campaign.

 

The PRI, thanks to the PVEM, should gain about five points among voters in the July 2, 2006 elections.  As for the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), it has formed alliances with the Labor Party and the Convergence Party, agreements that should add some four points to its vote totals.

 

Only the PAN is now, once again, alone.

 

PAN leaders, although talks were held, were unable to forge a coalition with the Green Party this time around and thus showed their lack of political skill.  Furthermore, Felipe Calderón, the party’s presidential candidate, has become an obstacle in the effort to reach certain legislative reforms this year – agreements that had already been negotiated between the PAN, PRI, PVEM, and the Fox government.

 

An example is the issue of autonomy for Mexican government financial institutions.  The intent of that initiative is to take politics out of the decision-making process on economic policy right away.  This by naming the different agency heads, who would be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, to eight year terms – similar to the system used for Mexico’s central bank, the Banco de México.

 

But it is the congressional deputies of the National Action Party who have asked for time to once again analyze the bill, this following a request for them to do so by Calderón.  This even though Calderón had come out in favor of the proposal on November 29, during a candidates’ debate sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico City.

 

During that same forum López Obrador expressed his opposition to the initiative, saying that such reforms would not allow Mexico’s next president to change economic and fiscal policies.

 

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Enrique Andrade, a Mexico City-based attorney and business consultant, writes a weekly column for MexiData.info.  He can be reached via e-mail at enriqueag@andradep.com.