There is no doubt or question as to the fact that National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party head Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is striking terror in the hearts of the other political parties’ leaders.
On Wednesday night there was a gathering organized by a faction of the electorally foundering Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) with once “despicable” Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) former president Manlio Fabio Beltrones who presented the old idea of revamping, once more, the electoral code to include “obligatory alliances” among parties. If no alliance is achieved, a runoff election would take place between first and second place in the 2018 presidential election.
A reality check has it that the idea was first proposed by the National Action Party (PAN) immediately after the 2006 election in which PAN’s Felipe Calderón beat AMLO by less than a 1 percent difference. AMLO, a precursor of Donald Trump, refused to concede and claimed robbery at the polls masterminded by then also PAN president Vicente Fox.
Though the ensuing protest that shut down Mexico City’s main thoroughfare, Paseo de la Reforma, for several months is history, it is not forgotten and left a deep political scar in the electoral system.
Then in 2012 when PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto won by a 6 percent difference, this time AMLO did not summon his followers to stage a protest closing down city streets. Once again, he cried foul and did not concede claiming the PRI-PAN coalition had rigged the election.
And indeed Peña Nieto’s arrival to the presidency with a mere 38 percent of the vote — even if it was legal and straight — raised suspicions mainly because of the PRI’s then 80 year old reputation of arriving to power through rigged elections.
One question that arises from Beltrones’ proposals to change the electoral law to allow for “obligatory alliances” among political parties — and a runoff election if a candidate fails to garner 51 percent of the total vote — is that he did not present it to the PRI, but to the PRD.
It was not a formal proposal per se and was attended by the faction known as “Los Galileos,” former Federal Electoral Institute president and one of the stalwarts of democracy Mexican style José Woldemberg, and PAN Senator Roberto Gil Zwarth, who was one of the proponents of runoff elections in case a candidate did not win a majority.
At the gathering, Beltrones is quoted as saying that “the times of the winner takes it all and the loser pesters the winner must come to an end” in an obvious reference to AMLO, who is already a sure fire candidate for the presidency in the 2018 election.
Woldemberg and Gil Zwarth said they were fully in favor of a runoff election that will allow having a viable coalition majority in both houses of Congress.
As a side note, when PAN ruled for 12 years in a row, the then PRI majority rolled over the PAN minority in Congress, and most of the bills presidents Fox and Calderón sent to Congress got sacked both by PRI and PAN deputies and senators.
In fact, the great success President Peña Nieto had at the start of his mandate in December 2012 was his concocting a coalition with PAN and PRD solons to back up the passage of his energy, education and telecommunication reforms under the Peña’s “Pact for Mexico.”
Beyond the proposal made by Beltrones to PRD leaders Guadalupe Acosta and Carlos Navarrete, head of “Los Galileos” faction, also promoting the ideas of a runoff election is former Treasury and Public Finance Secretary (SHCP) Luis Videgaray, who is still one of the president’s closest advisors, as he always was. Videgaray has been seen lobbying in Congress on this issue. In case you don’t remember him, he was the man behind the not so brilliant idea of inviting Donald Trump to talk to President Peña Nieto that got him toppled from the SHCP post.
But in reality, both Beltrones and Videgaray are seeking a way to impede AMLO from winning his third bid for the presidency, as he is the leading candidate if elections were held today.
This thought is also scary for PAN members who, like PRI militants, considered back then and now AMLO to be “a threat to Mexico.”
As the “Galileo Dialogue” was organized by the PRD, you can also read into it the fear the PRD has of AMLO too as AMLO, twice a PRD presidential candidate, splintered from them to form his own Morena political party at the cost of a majority of the PRD vote.
Politically, this was a groundbreaking meeting to reshape the electoral law, promote partisan coalitions but mainly, a push to prevent AMLO from becoming president.