Thursday, July 15, 2010

Problems with the Dedazo

One element of the July 4 elections that is getting some attention here is the failure of the PRI's selection process in putting forward the best candidate. Leo Zuckermann recently wrote:
It seems to me that one of [the conclusions the PRI should draw from the elections] is related to the method for choosing their candidates. It's been shown that it's not enough to give governors the right to designate who will be politician to appear on the ballot beneath the PRI logo to compete to succeed them.


What did the national PRI do to correct these errors? Nothing. Because the PRI decided to give broad power to the governors to select their successors. The PRI simply translated the old institution of the dedazo from the National Palace to the state houses. If in the past the president decided who would be the PRI candidate for governor, now, without a priísta executive, the decision was transferred to the governors. And as is usually the case with the dedazos, on some occasions good candidates were selected (as in Tamaulipas or Chihuahua) but sometimes errors are made (as was the case in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Sinaloa).

[The solution is] to establish some type of counterweight to the governors from the National Executive Committee of the party (I can't imagine counterweights in states where the governor can control the entire party apparatus). For example, a governor could present his proposed candidate to be ratified by a small group of distinguished priístas (no more than ten) including the national director of the party. The risk of this mechanism is that a governor could be angered by the possible veto of his candidate. But, in politics, it's always better to have counterweights on important decisions, even a party's internal ones.

For now, it seems to me that the PRI errs in awarding all of the power over candidacies to governors. The PRI has lacked imagination in developing institutions more in line with the new era of democratic competition. But, at the end of the day, the issue is only a matter for priístas. They are the ones who will have to decide if they continue with dedazos or establish some type of counterweight that allow them to choose better candidates.
Everything he says is basically correct, but the losses in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Sinaloa were all by narrow margins. A few more points in their favor, and all of the problems with the PRI's internal practices, real though they may be, would have been entirely hidden by a clean sweep, at which point sentiments like Zuckermann's would be totally out of place.

Update: Pancho Garfias makes the same argument, and says that at least some party heavyweights are thinking likewise.


jd said...

Heaven forbid the national committee oversees a primary.

pc said...

Yeah really. If the worry is not removing the powerful constituency of the governors from the process, it's not like the governor will be completely sidelined here.