Wednesday, July 7, 2010


A massive thunderstorm knocked power out for 12 hours last night. The power did not, however, go out on Sunday: the PRI accepted defeats in Sinaloa, Oaxaca, and Puebla. There was no attempt to repeat the fraud of 1988 when an invented computer failure--'se cayo el sistema' was the shrugging explanation of its priísta architects--possibly denied Cuauhtemoc Cardenas the presidency and certainly denied posterity the truth. But the three gubernatorial defeats the PRI suffered are neither significant wounds nor signs of a flourishing democracy. For the PRI, the losses are papercuts from paper tigers, and for Mexican political life they reveal a still-unconsolidated electoral democracy.

The three states where the PRI was defeated represented particular, localized cases where opposition coalitions formed around identifiable, non-ideological issues: namely, defeating a specific PRI representative. In other words, the PRI lost only when people voted AGAINST it, not when people voted FOR something else, and this only in three particular cases. Such a voting pattern resembles 2000 when the amorphous promise of "change" was the strongest plank in Vicente Fox's platform and one that allowed for a broad ideological spectrum of support. That in 2010 the PRI is only being defeated by similar strategies underscores the weakness, both political and ideological, of the opposition after 10 years of supposed democracy and does not offer the hope of more effective governance. In strategic terms, the PRI has little reason to fear that a PAN-PRD alliance will form on the national level for the 2012 presidential election, since ambitions within each party would prevent this. Moreover, this is not the first time the PRI has lost the governorship of states where it was previously strong, and in most of those cases they have regained power in the next election cycle.

In short, Sunday showed neither a weakened PRI nor a vibrant opposition to it.

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