Saturday, October 22, 2011

PRD internal election tomorrow: Fearing the worst

The PRD had sought to postpone its internal elections - for its national congress, council, and state councils - until after the Michoacán elections, but following a complaint to Mexico's electoral tribunal by Carlos Sotelo, a PRD senator who seems intent on sabotaging his own party, the tribunal ordered the PRD to hold elections, to take place this Sunday.

Why I fear for the worst, a) The leader of the IDN faction, constantly involved in scandals, has persistently hurled accusations left and right, without offering not even the slightest of proof, that the elections will be fraudulent, including holding a "sit-in" encampment protest outside the PRD's buildings. Just what the party needs after for years trying to shed the bellicose, intransigent, aggressive image after the 2006 protests, which led it it having the highest disapproval/rejection rate of any party among Mexico's voters.

Why I hope for the best: At least the party's top executive leadership - its National Executive Committee- will not be elected. That should take away quite a bit from what its at stake. The party already has a president (of the social democratic left), and a secretary general (of the clientelist movement-inspired IDN), who continues its uneasy, schizophrenic cohabitación where the party is fundamentally divided over its future direction, including even whether to be a party at all, or a personalistic movement-party.

Why I fear for the worst b) Let's not forget that the PRD will also, likely in November, choose its 2012 presidential candidate. While this will be decided by a citizen poll, clearly having control of the party structure matters immensely.

Whatever one's ideology, the existence of a well-functioning and solid center-left party is of the absolute highest importance to the functioning of electoral democracy. Even those who wish the PRD the worst (and this assessment is often fueled by its constant internal wrangling and fights) should ask themselves the question: What if there was not a party like the PRD in Mexico to absorb and channel the demands for a leftwing agenda - how would these grievances be vented and expressed? It wouldn't be pretty.

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