Election watching is fun, even when the elections are as inconsequential as these recent ones appear to have been. Let’s start with the party system. Below is a of the parties, put in “more-or-less” left-right order. I say more of less because some of these parties are really not easy to categorize.
From left to right:
Morena: The name is an acronym for the Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional. The party is Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) pet vehicle. AMLO ran for president in 2006 on the PRD ticket with a moderately left-wing platform. He lost to Felipe Calderón by a hair. Instead of accepting defeat, however, he mobilized mass demonstrations, denounced the new government as illegitimate, and organized a government-in-exile. The low came when López Obrador shouted “To hell with your institutions!” AMLO nonetheless took another tilt at the windmill in 2012, still with the PRD ... he lost with a respectable 31.6% of the total vote. After the election, for reasons which remain unclear, AMLO left the PRD and formed his own party.
PRD: What I’m calling the PRD is actually a coalition between the PRD and the Labor Party, but Labor is very much a junior partner so you don’t lose much by ignoring it. The PRD got shellacked by AMLO’s decision to form a new party. It also got wounded by the fact that it governed the state of Guerrero when the 43 student activists were kidnapped and killed. Add those two blows to the fact that the party currently has no natural leader, and a shellacking was to be expected. But there was also a third, the continuing strength of the ...
Citizens’ Movement: This party got started in 1999 as a sort of Mexican version of the Liberal Democrats: lefty but not too lefty. That did not last. The party followed López Obrador into the wilds of the post-2006 government-in-exile, but refused to join Morena in 2012. This did not please AMLO. The Movimiento Ciudadano has gained oxygen from Marcelo Ebrard’s decision to switch from the PRD. Ebrard was a popular mayor of Mexico City (although the Line 12 fiasco has dented his reputation) and many believe that he could have won the presidency in 2012 had the PRD nominated him instead of AMLO.
In short, the left is split between López Obrador’s pet vehicle, the remnants of the PRD, and a social democratic party that appears to be trying to take on the mantle of the center-left. It is a mess.
Continuing to the right we have:
Humanist Party: I’m at a bit of a loss with these guys. It’s a new party formed by rural politicians from both the PRI and the PAN. It seems to be basically an agricultural interest group party ... and does not seem to be too long for this world since it did not clear the 3% election threshold needed to keep its official standing.
PRI: This is big centrist gorilla of Mexican politics, an amorphous non-ideological blob descended directly from the old dictatorial ruling party.
Green Party: Oh boy. The Green Party is not a green party. It supports the death penalty for kidnapping, which would shock other green parties, and it’s remarkably wobbly on LGBT issues. So green it is not. Nor is it much of a party. Rather, it seems to be more of a family business run by its founder, Jorge González. (His son now heads the party.) The Greens collect election subsidies, get involved in a remarkable number of corruption scandals, and seems to care little about environmental issues. It went into coalition with the PAN in 2000 and now works with the PRI ... and keeps managing to win votes.
Panal: This party was the wholly-owned subsidiary of the teachers’ union run by Esther Gordillo. We discussed it here. President Peña arrested her in February 2013 on corruption charges — in interviews, former president Calderón seems a little defensive that he didn’t move against her during his term. Gordillo’s daughter and a grandson are still in the party; she may be gone, but the party still lives on a manifestation of the union’s power.
PAN: This is center-right grouping that beat the PRI in 2000. The PAN is internally divided. The divisions are mostly personal, but there is also a vague ideological split between social conservatives and economic conservatives ... with the latter further split between moderates and radicals. That said, the economic center of gravity of the PAN is somewhat to the left of the U.S. Republicans.
Encuentro Social: Mexico has experienced social change at blinding speed over the last two decades; same-sex marriage is legal in the D.F., Coahuila, and Quintana Roo. The D.F. has legalized abortion up to 12 weeks. Divorce rates are rising and sexual mores have flipped in what seems like an eyeblink. And so, we bring you the reaction! The Social Encounter Party is dedicated to stopping the scourge of same-sex marriage and abortion.
And there you have the basic panorama for the Congressional parties.
There are also the state elections. There, el Bronco in Nuevo León has gotten all the attention as the first independent to win a Mexican state election. (That is because independent candidates were not allowed until this election.) I could not write this post without mentioning him, of course.