Monday, June 8, 2015

Today's Mexico City Headlines: Independent thinking

The results rolled in slowly Sunday night, so most of the papers had to be tentative in naming winners for their morning print editions.
    But they weren’t shy about the new Nuevo León governor. The independent candidate Jaime Rodríguez, aka El Bronco, had things wrapped up early, eventually finishing with more than 48 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
    That gave Reforma and Excelsior the chance to try to out-verb each other in their lead front-page heads, the former with “El Bronco overwhelms (arrolla) in NL,” and the latter with “El Bronco annihilates (arrasa) in NL." I call the verb-off a draw in Spanish, but a double disqualification in English, where in translation both verbs sound like transitive soldiers sent into battle in an intransitive cause.
    In Milenio’s lead head, Rodríguez has to share billing with three other gubernatorial winners: “El Bronco, Astudillo, Aureoles and Pavlovich will govern.” I can’t remember ever seeing Rodríguez appear in a headline during the entire campaign with his real name; it’s a wonder people knew how to vote for him.
    As for the other (real) names, Héctor Astudillo took back from the PRD the Guerrero governorship for the PRI, while Silvano Aureoles took back from the PRI the Michoacán governorship for the PRD. The cost of victory for each is that they now have to govern. They will each try to avoid the fate of the last elected governors of those states, both of which had to step down under low-hanging clouds of suspicion.
    Claudia Pavlovich kept Sonora for the PRI. She will be the state's first female governor.
    La Jornada relegates EL Bronco to the kicker above a ho-hum head: “PRI ahead in 4 governorships, AN in 2, PRD in one.” AN is short for PAN, which is short for the National Action Party, which is the business-friendly, pro-Church party that generally runs well in conservative areas. There were actually nine governorships voted on Sunday. The PAN’s two wins were in Baja California Sur and Querétaro; the PRI’s four in Guerrero, Campeche, Sonora and San Luis Potosí. The PRD won Michoacán. The small Pacific state of Colima is so close between the PAN and the PRI that it will have to wait for the official results to come out later this week, and probably longer.
    But it’s the ninth state, Nuevo León, where the big story is. An independent has never won a major post in modern Mexican history, for the simple reason that candidates were until recently forbidden to run without party affiliation. EL Bronco’s win — an impressive one in an important, commercial border state — is sure to change the electoral ecology in 2018.
    El Universal’s focus is on the congressional race, in which all 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the federal Congress, are being replaced (the return of re-electable legislators, banned since revolutionary times a century ago, is still a cycle away). El Universal tells the story in its lead head: “PRI and allies rub up on a majority.” It has since become clear that President Peña Nieto’s PRI, with the help of its coalition partner, the Green Party, will keep it’s majority, not just rub up against it.
    That’s a victory for the president. You have to remember, though, that modern PRI victories are less about winning hearts and minds as they are about organization, stability, and other less savory vote inducements. The criticism and ill will aimed his way may tone down a bit, but open season on the president is probably not over.
    What the papers mostly ignore this morning — probably because even partial results were unavailable before midnight — is the Lear-like tragedy of the PRD, coupled with the impressive debut of its new rival on the left, Morena.
    The PRD still occupies third place in the Chamber (behind the PAN), but is down to just 10.83 percent. Morena, in its maiden voyage, damn near caught them with 8.38 percent.
    Things are worse for the PRD — and corollarily better for Morena — in the Federal District. There the PRD not only lost its majority in Mexico City’s legislative assembly, it may end up with fewer seats than Morena. Also, the PRD controlled 14 of the 16 Mexico City boroughs before the vote. It appears to be down to six now, with Morena taking five of the eight that the PRD lost.
    So along with Enrique Peña Nieto, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has good reason to be pleased with Sunday’s results. He’ll be running for president again in 2018, this time on the Morena ticket, against the PRI and Pan candidates  . . . and, no doubt, against an independent as well.

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