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.
A Reforma poll showed a dead heat in race for the governorship of Oaxaca. The candidate for the PAN-PRD-PT-Covergencia coalition, Gabino Cué, has a 1% lead over the PRI-PVEM candidate Eviel Pérez. Cué, the former mayor of Oaxaca city is well-known, respected, and possibly the PAN’s best chance for avoiding a clean sweep by the PRI in the July 4 gubernatorial races. Pérez is the protégé of outgoing PRI governor Ulises Ruiz. (Reforma 5/19)
In what may be the most closely fought of the July elections, the formal campaign for governor of Oaxaca formally began. The race pits Gabino Cué, as the standard bearer of the PRD–PT–Convergencia–PAN alliance, against Eviel Pérez Magaña, the right hand man of outgoing Governor Ulises Ruiz. An Ipsos poll gives Cué a 44%-25% lead over Pérez Magaña. (Universal 4/30)
The climate in the state was marked by the ambush of a human rights caravan that left two human rights activists dead (one from Finland), three wounded, and three disappeared, allegedly at the hands of paramilitaries in the Triqui region of the state. Governor Ruiz called for the expulsion of foreigners from the state. Cue said, “Everybody knows that the lack of public security in Oaxaca today is the responsibility of Ulises Ruiz.” (Universal 5/2, 5/1, Frontline Defenders 4/29)
The Supreme Court ruled by 7-4 that PRI governor Ulises Ruiz committed “grave violations of individual rights” during the state government’s 2006 crackdown on the APPO radical group, principally for failing to maintain public order. Three former public security officials were also cited. The court’s ruling, which will not be finalized for several weeks, has no direct effects, and will be referred to the Congress. Ruiz’s term ends in December 2010, and he has pledged to finish his term and hand over power to a PRI successor. Columnist Miguel Angel Granados Chapa notes, “Without minimizing a jot the relevance of the ruling by the Republic’s highest tribunal, it would not appear that the ruling will set off any adverse consequences, political or penal, for the governor of Oaxaca. The demands for political judgment against him have multiplied, but they will not prosper because his party will support him. Since [the PRI] is the largest group in the Chamber of Deputies, and able to form a majority with the Green Party, it will scarcely happen that the Government Commission will move forward with the proposal to politically sanction Ruiz.” (Reforma 10/14, 10/18)
A BGC/Excelsior nationwide telephone poll of name recognition and popularity of leading PRI politicians showed that Mexico State governor Enrique Peña Nieto continues to stand well above other party figures in both dimensions. Only party president Beatriz Paredes comes anywhere close. The new governor of Nuevo León, Rodrigo Medina, takes office with very favorable ratings, but low national name recognition. The controversial governors Mario Marín and Ulises Ruiz continue to have very high negatives, though somewhat less than in the past. (Excelsior 10/5, BGC)