When the PRI was the singular party, the party of the state, alliances made a lot of sense, but then they were very common. Before 1986, nobody really believed it was possible to win a governorship from the Revolutionary regime. Later, everyone wanted to win it, but only for their side. Today, the argument is that it is to break local fiefdoms, which push personalities with relatively weak parties, but that together can put up a fight. But the same argument offers the conclusion: if the personality that is pushed has its own force, it will build a new fiefdom. If not, it will have in the best of cases a fruitless government.That's about the best argument I've seen against the alliances. I think a lot depends on whether this is a one-off thing, or a regular feature of the Mexican political landscape. If it's a temporary tactic to defeat the PRI of Ulises Ruiz and Mario Marín, and then everything goes back to normal in six years, I don't really see it as such a cancer. (As to how the alliances would govern in the event of their victory, I've not read a whole lot about that, but I think the obligations of government would hasten the split in a lot of cases.) But if the two also-rans ganging up on the local leader is to be a standard feature of Mexican elections, I think Schettino's warning is worth heeding. If you believe Gustavo Madero, the latter is the case.
The key line of separation in political projects in Mexico, I repeat, is between revolutionary nationalism, in whichever of the different versions that you like, and a diluted liberalism, which also has different presentations. One can find between the PRI both of these tendencies, but it's hard to find them both in the other parties. In consequence, the one who defines the competition is the PRI, depending on the candidate, and political group, from one of the two outlooks, pushed in each entity.
You can argue that in state elections this ideological fracture is a minor issue, and that the local dynamic is much more relevant. It is for the voters, without a doubt, but not for the parties, which have to construct a national platform. It's not worth much to win a race with an alliance that dilutes the political and ideological offering, without winning anything in return in terms of local structure or clear actions of government.
The alliances against the PRI could have been a great tool to destroy the authoritarian regime, but they weren't used then. Today they make no sense. If what they want is to beat the PRI, the correct path is to deepen the ideological fracture that separates that party, and indeed, the entire country.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Against the Alliances
Macario Schettino on the alliances (from last week):