The News
The News
Friday 01 of July 2022

PRI Candidate Quagmire


Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto gives a speech next to Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove during an official welcoming ceremony, at the National Palace in Mexico City,photo: AP/Henry Romero
Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto gives a speech next to Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove during an official welcoming ceremony, at the National Palace in Mexico City,photo: AP/Henry Romero
How will the PRI candidate be chosen? We’ll find out on Saturday

If there is a political party in Mexico that’s full of tribulations, it is indeed the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Yet tribulations can’t last forever and this week is a moment of crucial decision making.

Next Saturday PRI will hold its 22nd National Assembly at the Mexico City Sports Palace with its president — and owner, critics claim — President Enrique Peña Nieto as the keynote speaker.

Prior to the Saturday powwow in which about 12,000 national delegates are expected to attend PRI will hold Wednesday and Thursday five “theme tables” (mesas temáticas) in five different cities. At the theme tables they will “iron out” what is to be the final outcome of the PRI’s platform outline for the June 3, 2018, upcoming presidential elections in the nation.

Delegates will first gather in Toluca to outline the action program, in Saltillo for the declaration of principles, in Guadalajara for a vision of the future, and in Mazatlán for accountability and ethics.

Yet the main attention will be focused in the fifth theme table to be held in Campeche. This is the table where statutes will be discussed and will be presided by President Peña Nieto’s main political PRI coordinator César Camacho Quiroz.

On Friday the organizing committees will gather at PRI headquarters in Mexico City to put together the results of each of the theme tables and present a succinct version of them in the main gathering on Saturday.

In case you’re wondering why the statutes are most important, here’s your answer. During the Campeche there will be radical changes in the statutes especially in relation as to how the next presidential candidate is going to be elected.

Traditionally within the PRI, it is the president in turn who elects who will “succeed” him in the presidency. Yet this type of mentality used to apply to the old PRI when it held full control of the electoral machinery in Mexico and could program “the succession” from one regime to the other mostly through rigged elections.

At present PRI can no longer rig elections. It can do whatever it deems best to win but there is no assurance that the old “style of governance” in which a president appointed who would be the next leader of the nation don’t exist anymore.

During the Ernesto Zedillo Administration (1994-2000), the president was not a PRI member and he came in as pinch-hitter after the true candidate was assassinated in Tijuana in 1994. Zedillo decided to let the party choose a candidate. Just between you and me Zedillo was highly influenced at the time by Bill Clinton, who saved his administration from economic disaster, and by pulling out the strong man status he let the democratic forces within PRI make their choice, and they selected Francisco Labastida, who lost by landslide to Vicente Fox. At PRI, Zedillo is still hated for not implementing the strong president tactic that had worked well during 70 years before to keep the PRI as the only party in power.

Did I mention César Camacho Quiroz? Yes, I did.

Well, he was the party president that ran the PRI during the election that took Peña Nieto to power. At the general assembly that ensued the presidential victory, Camacho Quiróz arranged to make Peña Nieto the president of the party as well, bringing back together party and national leadership under one man.

This is where the statutes theme table becomes of extreme importance for PRI. It’s a fact that the political scenario is not the same as the one in 2012 when even with minority vote, Peña Nieto was a more or less popular candidate.

The real problem at hand nowadays is how to select its presidential candidate to be announced next November. Should President Peña Nieto appoint him? Or should, as a strong group of PRI important leaders, be selected by consensus?

Letting Peña Nieto appoint a person of his choice could be suicidal, in the eyes of some. Peña Nieto is considered one of the weakest presidents in PRI history and surely he will inherit that weakness and unpopularity to his appointee. It is definite that Peña Nieto would love to do this but that remains to be seen. He needs, pundits claim, someone to clean up the streak of corruption his administration is leaving behind.

The party may also choose democratically the upcoming candidate, but their working on their own and in their own fashion led before to losing the presidency.

How will the PRI candidate be chosen? We’ll find out on Saturday.