Thursday, July 10, 2003

Cuaderno Latinoamericano - Andres Oppenheimer finally weighs in on the results of the Mexican mid-term elections. He's not so pessimistic about what this means for Fox's ability to get some things accomplished. He basically argues that even though Fox and his PAN party lost big, there were two things about the election that may lead to compromise and action. First, the big rate of voter abstention (60%) was a wake-up call to all politicians that they need to somehow find a way to re-engage the public trust in them. Compromise and movement on the domestic policy front may just do that. Second, the winners of these midterm elections, the PRI and the PRD, now need to show that they can deliver the goods as well. Working with the PANista Fox to get some things accomplished seems even more imperative now than before.

I think Oppenheimer may be on to something, but I'm not nearly so optimistic. I think the PRI and the PRD would be quite happy to have the same results come 2006, and if this means stonewalling the Fox reform agenda in Congress and dealing with a high voter absention that apparently has hurt the PAN the most, then why not repeat this successful electoral strategy in 2006? Furthermore, what Oppenheimer doesn't address at all is that Fox will still need PANista support in the national legislature to carry out any compromise reform agenda with the PRIistas and the PRDistas - and the poor showing of the PAN in this last election may very likely be attributed among rank-and-file PANistas to Fox's poor leadership of the party. The sour grapes and intransigence to compromise will most likely come from the PAN making a willingness to compromise on the part of the PRI and the PRD basically irrelevant. I think the next year will be quite revealing on this subject.

On another point, Oppenheimer has echoed what I wrote in a previous post: watch out for ex-Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda. Looks like he's got a good platform and a legitimate alternative party from which to run a 2006 presidential campaign. He could be a very appealing anti-establishment party candidate.

On a peripherally related issue, the Washington Times has a curious little article on the evolution of the United States as the 6th voting district in Mexican national elections. I guess it's not too strange given that the conservative leanings of the Washington Times might see this evolution as a good little bit of US influence (bordering on the old "manifest destiny" imperialism of yesteryear) seeping into the Mexican political system. But to have a usually anti-immigrant newspaper spin this without the usual xenophobic hyperbole seems a bit strange - especially since the Mexicans resident in the U.S. and campaigning for public office in Mexico have been leaning towards the leftist PRD. As I said, a very curious little article.

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