Magazine article SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico

Three Major Political Parties Facing Competitive Internal Elections in Early 2002

Magazine article SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico

Three Major Political Parties Facing Competitive Internal Elections in Early 2002

Article excerpt

The three major political parties are facing potentially divisive internal battles as they prepare to elect new leaders during 2002. The former governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD), and the conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) are hoping to elect leaders who will prepare them for competitive elections in 2003, when all 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and a handful of gubernatorial seats will be up for grabs. No federal or gubernatorial races are scheduled in 2002, although six states will elect state legislators and mayors.

The PRI will be the first to hold its election, with formal registration scheduled Jan. 6-11 and the election on Feb. 24. The center-left PRD and the PAN are both planning internal elections in mid-March.

Federal legislator, former Tabasco governor seek PRI post

The race to control the PRI will be primarily a battle between former Tabasco Gov. Roberto Madrazo Pintado and federal Deputy Beatriz Paredes Rangel, although other minor candidates have thrown their hats into the ring. The winner would succeed outgoing president Dulce Maria Sauri Riancho.

Madrazo is attempting to portray himself as a reformer and a candidate of "unity," but he has been unable to shake his connections with the old guard of the party. This could become an obstacle in the PRI's efforts to reach out to younger voters who view the party leaders who governed the country for 71 years as corrupt.

Paredes is hoping for the support of PRI secretary- general Rodolfo Echeverria, who founded a faction that is pushing for major reforms in the PRI. The PRI legislator has apparently also gained the endorsement of long-time party supporters like the Confederacion Nacional Campesina (CNC) and influential party leaders like Sen. Manuel Bartlett Diaz, one of Madrazo's rivals in the PRI's first-ever presidential primary. The primary was won by Francisco Labastida Ochoa (see SourceMex, 1999-11-10). Labastida toyed with seeking the PRI presidency but finally decided to stay out of the race.

Some party leaders have expressed concern about the bitterness of the campaign. "We face a risk of fracture," said Sen. Humberto Roque Villanueva, who is a former PRI president.

"The best way to avoid division is to negotiate an agreement by which all factions, regardless of who is victorious, are represented in the new executive committee," said Manuel Fuentes Bove, currently the PRI's secretary for political action.

Regardless of who wins the election to lead the PRI, however, party members recently voted to overhaul the party's policies. At a convention in November, party delegates approved a platform that changes the PRI's orientation from its recent position as an all-embracing centrist party to one that is more focused on a center-left ideology. This strategy would help the PRI in two ways, by creating a clear distinction with the PAN and also by regaining some of the recent support lost to the PRD.

"We are committed to organizing the party effectively so that at the end of the competition for the presidency the PRI will come out strong, and its new direction will be seen as legitimate by the people," said Echeverria.

Ex-Mexico City mayor vies with senator for PRD leadership

The PRD is also facing a potentially divisive race for the successor to outgoing president Amalia Garcia Medina, with former Mexico City mayor Rosario Robles Berlanga competing against Sen. Jesus Ortega. Robles, a protege of former Mexico City mayor and PRD founder Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, has fiercely criticized almost all the policies of President Vicente Fox. Ortega has been more selective in his criticisms of Fox and at times has shown a willingness to work in multiparty efforts with colleagues from the PRI and the PAN in the Senate. …

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