How serious is the entire “circus” being staged by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) this week when it is traditionally known that in the end it is the President-in-turn’s word that has the final say?
Wednesday and Thursday five different think tanks are defining the party’s platform for the 2018 election basing themselves in an old adage, framed in the 1970s by a now deceased Interior Secretary named Jesús Reyes Heroles, that the life of a political program depend first on its governance program and secondly on the man who is going to run for president next.
The five current mini-conventions in five different cities are following this lead and putting together what on Saturday will be presented as the party’s platform for “six more years” after the 2018 presidential elections. The result of the “theme tables” underway will be presented in a summary by President Enrique Peña Nieto next Saturday during the party’s 22nd PRI General Assembly in Mexico City.
In the five cities where the theme tables are being held, there is currently a hit parade of famous Mexican politicos going on and most pundits claim that the two more important ones are in Guadalajara, where PRI will outline its “vision for the future,” and in Campeche, where they may change statutes to allow non-militants to participate as presidential hopefuls in the upcoming campaign.
If we go by what’s going on in these two cities, it’d seem that the center of the most important discussion will be in Campeche. First, President Enrique Peña Nieto was there two days ago inaugurating public works and patting Campeche Gov. Alejandro Rafael Moreno Cárdenas on the back for the good work, and at last telling “Alito” (as Gov. Moreno is nicknamed) to be a great host to the attending members at the PRI mini-convention. “Alito”, of course, is a PRI member.
In this discussion there are two groups who will definitely clash on the way to choose the candidate for president. One of them is led by former Yucatan Gov. Ivonne Ortega and the other by the President’s personal political operator and former PRI Deputy President César Camacho Quiróz.
Camacho Quiróz will be for the tradition to let the President be the man who picks the candidate while Ms. Ortega is part of a group that wants the candidate to be chosen from a broad “deck of cards” to portray to the Mexican people that PRI’s is a people’s candidate.
It must be said that at all five theme tables PRI militants come with a feeling of danger stemming out of the results of the polls over the past few months, in which in all cases PRI comes in third after leading National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and National Action Party (PAN). They know that there is no question as to the fact that voters reject in many ways the Peña Nieto Administration even if – and this is a fact – it is showing fairly decent results at least on the economic front.
A key issue in the statutes change debate in Campeche is one that is called in political lingo as “a lock”. There is a statute that says that in order for a hopeful to run for president, he or she must have minimum 10-year militancy as a party member. The debate is with an open mind and says former PRI president Manlio Fabio Beltrones – in the Guadalajara theme table – that “every person who has militancy in a party can have legitimate aspirations. We’re going to listen to all voices, pay heed to them and find out if our candidate will be a militant or a regular citizen.”
The opening up of the militancy “lock” has an addressee, and that is Finance and Treasury Secretary José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, who served under former PAN president Felipe Calderón and who has been a loyal official to President Peña Nieto. When he is asked about this, Meade Kuribreña only says he knows nothing about politics and he’s busy preparing the 2018 national budget.
Yet there are many hopefuls who are militants and feel they can contend the voting gales now blowing against PRI and retain the presidency.
But again, observers (count me in) feel that this is all a “circus” in order to meet “time and form” and that the final decision who will be “the successor” will be the President’s call.
By the way, in old PRI days this type of event was called “the succession,” because in those days the president appointed the candidate and clear winner of the elections.
Nowadays, however, there is no such thing as “succession” and whoever the President selects as candidate has no assurance of succeeding him and in order to win, he/she will have to rally from behind in a ball game PRI is losing, even before it starts.