Monday, March 21, 2011

And then she cleaned her hand: Institutionalized schizophrenia in PRD election

After PRD's new secretary general Dolores Padierna shook hands with the party's new president Jésus Zambrano for the photographers, she sat down to wipe her hand on the table, declaring, "Better to clean it, so as not to bring bad luck."

With the risk of indulging too much in the occurrence: Could any analogy better explain what is the likely outcome of PRD's new cohabitación?

As expected, PRD's new national president is Jésus Zambrano, of the social democratic faction Nueva Izquierda, NI. The party's secretary general will be Dolores Padierna, of the social movement-oriented Izquierda Democrática Nacional, IDN.  The two groups oppose each other on virtually every level - ideology, tactics, strategies, organization, personal animosity... and of course, on whether PRD should ally with PAN in the upcoming state elections. It is true that IDN discreetly backed the 2010 alliances, only to turn against them when AMLO's anti-alliance rhetoric became increasingly hysteric, yet I am willing to bet the PRD's new president and secretary general will be in other's throats within days over this very issue.

By electing a Zambrano-Padierna "compromise" - few other options existed, it seems, given the relations of strength in the party council - the PRD has now pretty much institutionalized the schizophrenia dividing the party - a loose social movement-organization following AMLO's dictates, or an institutionalized center-left party a-la Zapatero's PSOE in Spain - by naming one from every camp for the party's two top positions.

If the IDN, nominally led by Padierna but created by her husband René Bejarano, can be persuaded that Ebrard has a better winning chance than AMLO and throw their lot with the former, this oil-and-water marriage could have a happy outcome. Yet given that, in my analysis, the division between these two blocks has been the cause of the party's main fault lines since its founding, I remain very skeptical of the feasibility of this coexistence. I hope I am wrong.

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