PRD leader Jesús Ortega beat back a challenge from dissident groups in the party that oppose any alliances with the PAN, during the PRD’s VII National Council; the vote endorsing the policy of alliances was 142-93. Ortega and the Council, however, agreed to the possibility of moving up the party’s internal election of a new president and secretary general to March 2011 instead of November, in order to have a new leadership in place for the 2011-12 election campaigns. (Excelsior 9/12)
The apparent victories of the PAN-PRD coalitions in the PRI strongholds of Oaxaca, Puebla, and Sinaloa vindicates the controversial strategy of President Felipe Calderón and PAN party president César Nava of forming state-level alliances with the PRD (and other left parties). In Oaxaca, coalition candidate Gabino Cué (originally from Convergencia) won 50% to 42% for Eviel Pérez, the protege of outgoing governor Ulises Ruiz. In Puebla, coalition standard bearer Rafael Moreno Valle won 52% to 41% for Javier López, the anointed successor to Mario Marín. Finally, in Sinaloa, coalition candidate Mario López Valdez (“Malova,” who until recently was a priista) beat Jesús Vizcarra of the PRI by 52%-46%. In all three states, this is the first time ever that anyone other than the PRI has ever won the state governorship.
Noted columnist Héctor Aguilar Camín, “Democracy is surprising, and defends itself well against predictions. The “unnatural” alliances of the PAN and PRD against the PRI have triumphed, far beyond what was expected. … The day, which had seemed for months like it would be a walk in the park for the PRI, has turned into a challenge for the party. It’s return to first place among voters happened, but in a competitive context that had seemed very unlikely.” (Milenio 7/5)
The coalition victories also strengthen the hand of PRD party president Jesús Ortega against Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who bitterly opposed the coalitions.
Another big winner would appear to be Teachers’ Union head Elba Esther Gordillo. The mobilization of the Union in favor of coalition candidates in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Sinaloa is being given credit for the PAN-PRD victories there. On the other hand, where the Union stood on the sidelines, as in Veracruz, the PRI won handily.
Finally, the success of the coalitions greatly increases the likelihood that the PAN and PRD will try to form a coalition for the State of Mexico gubernatorial elections in July 2011 — in what will certainly be viewed as the opening act for the 2012 presidential succession and a test for PRI front runner and current State of Mexico governor Enrique Peña Nieto. Failure of Peña Nieto to deliver the governorship of his own state would be a severe blow to his presidential ambitions and current aura of invincibility.
Without the presence of either Andrés Manuel López Obrador or Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the PRD held its 12th national Congress, which was billed as a refounding of the party. Party president Jesús Ortega sought to shepherd through an agenda that included opening the door to electoral alliances with the PRI and PAN, and greater internal democracy to reduce the power of the party’s notorious ideological ‘tribes.’ Most outside commentary was acid: “Nobody can deny the good intentions, but neither can they deny that the new PRD is a Frankenstein. … What’s left of the PRD is hardly a party, not at all revolutionary, and years from being the light of democracy,” wrote columnist Ricardo Alemán. (Universal 12/7, 12/7)
The PAN chose Josefina Vázquez Mota as the party’s leader in the new Chamber of Deputies, over former Government Secretary Francisco Ramírez Acuña, while the PRD selected Alejandro Encinas as its leader. The second move was a surprise, since AMLO-protégé Encinas lost a bitter PRD leadership contest to Jesús Ortega last year. Encinas and Ortega were seen having breakfast in a Mexico City hotel during the week, in another public sign of the efforts to stitch up the divisions within the PRD. The PRI has not yet announced its congressional leader. (Excelsior 8/17)
At a meeting of PRD leaders, party president Jesús Ortega retreated from his demand to expel AMLO for supporting candidates against the PRD, while reaffirming his belief that AMLO would never again be the party’s presidential candidate. The minutes of the meeting, read by Zacatecas governor Amalia García, said, “We believe that everyone is useful, and we will not stay on the route of throwing out or expelling anyone.” López Obrador, for his part, gave an interview that stopped characterizing the PRD and Ortega’s New Left faction as part of the ‘mafia’ that has kept him out of power. (Reforma 7/13)
The election for borough president of Iztapalapa, the key to the PRD’s grip on Mexico City, was further complicated by Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s call for his supporters to vote for the PT candidate, who pledged not to serve if elected. Leo Zuckermann describes the scenario:
Surreal México is where Clara Brugada wins the PRD primary election to be the candidate for Iztapalapa borough president. Her opponent, Silvia Oliva, files a complaint with the party bodies, arguing that there was fraud. The party authorities procrastinate. Finally, Oliva goes to the Federal Electoral Tribunal. This body nullifies the vote in several voting places where there was fraud. Oliva wins. She is the new candidate. But the ballots have already been printed. Under the logo of the PRD, Brugada appears. The Tropical Messiah [AMLO] makes his entrance. He is annoyed because his political ally has been thrown out. He organizes a meeting with his supporters. He calls on them not to vote for the Brugada who appears on the ballot, because that is in fact a vote for Oliva. He invites them to vote for a fellow named Juanito, puppet number one, who is the candidate of another party, the PT. AMLO announces that if he wins, Juanito will immediately resign from his post, and that as the cacique of the Left, he will call on another of his puppets, Marcelo Ebrard, the Mayor of Mexico City, to nominate Brugada to replace Juanito as Iztapalapa president. This would be ratified by the DF Legislative Assembly, AMLO’s third puppet. Juanito swears to do what the boss ordered. Conclusion: if Brugada wins, it’s Oliva who wins. If Juanito wins, Juanito loses and Brugada wins. Pure surrealism.
PRD party president Jesús Ortega issued a statement saying, “Any party militant who calls for a vote for the candidates of another party is, in reality, betraying our principles and seeking to deceive the citizens who are activists, sympathize, or work for the PRD.” (Excelsior 6/18, Reforma 6/18)
The Federal Electoral Tribunal overturned the PRD primary election for mayor of the borough of Iztapalapa, one of the PRD’s strongholds in Mexico City. The Tribunal revoked the results from 47 voting stations, giving the victory to Silvia Oliva (of the New Left wing headed by Jesús Ortega) instead of Clara Brugada (of the United Left wing of AMLO-protégé Alejandro Encinas). Control over a major part of the PRD’s patronage machine in the capital is at stake, since the borough “is capable of organizing true armies of people, in favor or against any party or political movement,” said columnist Ricardo Alemán. He also predicted, “There will be massive confusion. Clara Brugada’s name will probably be on the ballot, without being the candidate…. Silvia Oliva has no money to campaign, since Brugada has already spent it.” (Reforma 6/12, Universal 6/14)
In an unprecedented operation, federal police and the Army arrested 30 state and local officials in Michoacán for giving protection to the La Familia cartel. Those arrested included ten mayors (6 from the PRI, 2 PRD, and 2 PAN), a judge, and several police chiefs. The most prominent state official arrested was Citlalli Fernández, the former Secretary of Public Security of the state and close advisor to Governor Leonel Godoy. The arrests were a deep blow to the PRD, which views Michoacán as one of its key bastions. Godoy was not given any advance notice of the sweep; only the next day did Government Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont state clearly that neither Godoy nor his predecessor, Lazaro Cárdenas Batel, was a target. PRI and PRD leaders met urgently with Gómez Mont the next day. PRD party president Jesús Ortega said, “We made clear to the Secretary that the PRD will not allow an issue of such importance as public security … to be used for electoral purposes.” This was the first time during the Calderón government that PRD leaders have visited the Ministry of Government offices. (Universal 5/27, Excelsior 5/29)
The PRD held primary elections in the Federal District to select candidates for each of the city’s 16 boroughs, the legislative assembly, and federal congressional seats. The two principal PRD ‘tribes’—the New Left of Jesús Ortega and the United Left loyal to AMLO—accused each other of busing in phony voters, ballot theft, and vote buying (Ps. 200 per ballot for certain slates). Turnout was light, and PRD Mayor Marcelo Ebrard left town for the weekend rather than get caught between the factions. The preliminary vote count website crashed, and no official returns are expected until Wednesday. (Universal, Excelsior and Reforma 3/16)