Guerrero (Mexico) 2011

A gubernatorial election was held in the Mexican state of Guerrero on January 30. The incumbent and term-limited Governor is Zeferino Torreblanca of the left-wing PRD, who ended decades of PRI rule with a victory in 2005.

Guerrero is one of Mexico’s poorest states, and has the highest Afro-Mexican population of the country in addition to a sizable indigenous minority. For western tourists, Guerrero includes the touristy spots of Acapulco (a resort on the Pacific) and Taxco (an old mining city). Traditionally a stronghold of the PRI, the PRD’s win in 2005 seems to have been followed by a strengthening of the PRD in the state, which now means that Guerrero can be counted as a PRD-leaning state. Guerrero has been the focal point of much drug cartel-related violence and killings, to which the state government’s response has been largely incompetent. The general failure of the outgoing PRD administration added on to the national swing in favour of the PRI gave the PRI hopes for a pickup in a state which it had held rather easily until 2005. The PRI candidate was former Acapulco mayor Manuel Añorve Baños, and was supported by the PVEM and PANAL. The PRD candidate was Senator Ángel Aguirre Rivero, an incumbent senator and former governor who was a PRI stalwart until he scrambled to join the PRD in 2010 when Añorve got the PRI’s nod. He was supported by the PRD’s traditional partners, the PT and Convergencia. The ruling centre-right PAN, traditionally very weak in the state, at first nominated a candidate who later backed out and in no uncertain terms endorsed the PRD candidate. Indeed, one of the most interesting aspects of Mexican politics since the PRI’s 2009 midterm win and the supposed inevitability of its victory in 2012 has been the rapprochement between the PAN and PRD. Although both parties are divided by ideology, they are united by the memories of a common struggle since 1988 against the formerly hegemonic PRI whose 2000 defeat to the PAN ended seventy years of quasi-single party rule by the opportunistic and ideologically heterogeneous PRI. Faced with a PRI machine which has everything going for it, the PAN and PRD see their alliance as the only way to prevent a PRI win in 2012. In Guerrero, it seems to have dashed PRI hopes:

Ángel Aguirre (PRD-PT-Convergencia[-PAN]) 55.92%
Manuel Añorve (PRI-PVEM-PANAL) 42.74%
Marcos Efrén Parra (PAN, dropped out) 1.34%

Obviously, one will ask how the PRD and PAN could get along considering the response by the PRD’s 2006 candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), to his narrow defeat. For reminders, he refused to accept the legitimacy of the results and formed a shadow government which to this days refuses to accept the legitimacy of President Felipe Calderón. The answer is an internal fight since 2008 or so within the PRD, which resulted in AMLO’s internal rival, Jesús ‘Chucho’ Ortega, winning the party’s presidency. Chucho, who barely conceals his contempt for AMLO, favours an alliance with the PAN and the PRD and this anti-AMLO faction is pushing the candidacy of Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard for the 2012 election. It remains to be seen if the Christian democratic PAN, which lacks a clear frontrunner, will come around to supporting a PRD candidate who got headlines for legalizing gay marriage in Mexico City. Supported by the PRD’s sidekicks, PT and Convergencia, it is noteworthy that AMLO may still run even against Ebrard, who despite not being enrolled in Chucho’s faction, has recently moved away from AMLO.

Baja California Sur, a PRD stronghold governed by the party since 1999, goes to the polls on February 6. There, the PAN candidate (a former PRD member) has a significant lead over the PRD. In a state where the PRI is not a threat, there is thus incentive for a PAN-PRD alliance. However, the 2011 electoral season will heat up only July 3 when the states of Coahuila, Nayarit and most importantly México will elect governors. The PRI is on the defensive in all three states, and crucially the outgoing governor of México, Enrique Peña Nieto, is the frontrunner for the 2012 presidential election despite a general lack of talent or charisma. Coahuila and Nayarit seem safe enough for the PRI, but if the PRI were to lose México it would seriously hurt Peña Nieto’s ambitions for 2012. Yet, a PAN-PRD alliance in México seems unlikely, given that the PRD could very well nominate Alejandro Encinas, a former mayor of Mexico City and close ally of AMLO (and thus an opponent of an alliance with the PAN). Yet, the PRD leadership and Ebrard (as well as the PAN) still favour an alliance with the PAN which could still win the day, though at the cost of Encinas bolting from the PRD and running as a left-wing with the PT’s support, and possibly that of Convergencia. The PAN-PRD definitely want to recreate their 2010 alliances which cost the PRI the governorships of its longtime strongholds of Puebla, Oaxaca and Sinaloa.

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Posted on February 1, 2011, in Mexico, Regional and local elections. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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