Monday, February 16, 2015

Today's Headlines: Talk about piling on. Now it's Marcelo Ebrard's own party that doesn't want to have anything to do with him.

Five papers, five different lead headlines — not unusual for a Monday. But the No. 2 front-page heads also differ, meaning the major dailies can’t agree on any of 10 top stories. That’s unusual   
    Milenio goes with the big election news of the day. It’s a significant development, actually, though you’d never guess it by the baffling headline: “Chuchos obliterate with the PRD pluris.”
    Translation of the translation: “Chuchos” is a  nickname for the Nueva Izquierda (New Left) faction that controls the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and has overseen the demise over the last few years of the only established major political organization on the left.
    “Pluris” in this case is short for “diputaciones plurinominales,” which are the at-large seats in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of Congress). They are awarded to each party based on the percentage of the overall vote it receives for deputies running from actual districts.
    Getting your name at or near the top of the pluri list of a major party assures you of a seat in the next Congress, although nobody actually votes for you as an individual.
    There are no primaries. The at-large candidates as well as the district candidates are chosen by party leaders, dominated by the Chuchos. The PRD’s selection of most of its Chamber of Deputies candidates for the June 7 election took place Sunday. It was the equivalent of naming future deputies.
    And that’s where the news comes in, which is this: Left off the list — “obliterated” in the language of the headline — was Marcelo Ebrard, the former Mexico City mayor and one of the more visible and admired (at least until recently) faces in the PRD.
    Ebrard’s been on the hot seat lately as a result of the semi-shutdown of the Metro's Line 12, the troubled multi-billion-peso mega-project developed and put into service during his tenure as mayor. PRI congresspersons pushed through a recommendation for a criminal investigation of Ebrard. That’s been criticized as a politically motivated overreaction, but it may have paid off Sunday. His political career is on hold, and the immunity from prosecution he would have enjoyed as a member of Congress is out of reach, at least for the moment.
    Another factor in the snubbing of Ebrard may have been his leadership in a PRD faction opposed to the Chuchos. This will inevitably generate speculation that he’ll jump to Morena, the schismatic party of the left led by two-time PRD presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Ebrard hasn’t said as much, and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be welcome there. But the idea of party unity doesn’t seem to be in play.
    Also denied a candidacy was René Bejarano, who leads another anti-Chucho faction, the National Democratic Left, or IDN. Bejarano has his own image problem, the image in question being one of him behind bars after he was caught on video packing piles of cash into a suitcase. He has made something of a political comeback, however, and remains (remained?) a major player in the PRD. So is his wife, Dolores Padierna, who has been one of the more vocal defenders of the party during its recent slide.
    Now the three have been thrown under the bus, as they like to say north of the border. Are the Chuchos trying to clean up the party’s image or tighten their grip on it?

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