Sunday, August 27, 2006

A response to a post on the election

Last night my August 24 post on the election in Mexico drew the following response -

The issue in Mexico is not the numbers, but a distrust that no matter how hard the IFE has tried to separate itself from politics and look only at the technical aspects of the election, there is a significant number of people who believe the election results were manipulated.

It is not about logic, it is about emotion. The history of the country, starting from the first hand over of power in Post-Spanish Mexico, and repeatedly in the 19th and 20th centuries, has shown that Presidents stay in power not by election but by designation. Some of the greater presidents....Juárez, even the controversial Díaz, Lázaro Cárdenas, López Mateos, De la Madrid and I would argue even Zedillo came to power by designation rather than by clean elections.

I agree with you, Calderon will have to move away from his hard core supporters and garner coalitions with the legislature and with State Governors. Your post on region states by Ohmae is a way to go. Calderón should focus on Justice and coordination and let the economic development of the country be squarely in the hands of the governors and more local organizations.
Vperez | 08.27.06 - 1:16 am |

I agree with a good deal of the comments. But I also have a couple of additional thoughts. First, I recognize the emotions in a group of people who are skeptical about the election. Ultimately, even if the election was done to the highest international standards, based on the history of elections in the past (see my post about which year this is 1988,1994 or 2006) the Mexican people have a lot to be skeptical about. Mexico's electoral system is an evolving one. I believe that the 2006 election held to the highest standards. One election does not make a trend - but the direction, in my opinion, was positive.

Second, in my opinion, regardless of whether the objective reality confirms a good election, Mr. Lopez Obrador has tried to exploit the underlying skepticism of some people about elections in Mexico to his own advantage. The best example of that was the "stuffing" allegation. Soon after the election Lopez Obrador made a claim, when the election official came forward (his own PRD official) and presented a good explanation of what was going on in the video, AMLO said the guy had been "bought off." AMLO wants to return to the old system where elections were designated. There once was a joke in Mexico about the moving finger - the next president was chosen by the previous one. Until the 2000 election, that happened with varying degrees of designation. But 2000 broke that trend. I believe 2006 - where Mr. Fox wanted another candidate to be the PAN candidate - continued the trend begun in 2000.

Third, and most important. The Mexican constitution is a federal system. Under the PRI, like many other provisions in the document federalism was a fiction. All power resided in the national government. But in the last several years that has begun to change in some areas of the country. I have worked with a couple of governors, most notably Luis Armando Reynoso Femat in Aguascalientes, who understand the benefits of a federal system and have made major strides to try to move their states toward a more federal reality. Luis Armando has worked hard to make his administration into a world class team working for the state. His key secretaries could do their jobs in any region of the world. In the states around AGU similar things are happening, even though they are not PAN states. I got the same feeling from speaking with key officials in Zacatecas, a PRD state. Like the transition in the electoral system this is not an instantaneous transition. It will require some strong willed governors regardless of who is president. But as I see the evolution of the Mexican political system that is happening.

No comments: