After a Super Sunday of elections across Mexico that was widely seen as a test for the 2012 presidential race and the nation’s future, the winner turns out to be — well, not really anyone.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s party is weak, the left is in collapse and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that is on a tentative path to recapture the presidency it held for 71 years was shown to be vulnerable. Drug cartel intimidation dissuaded many from voting at all.
The mixed outcome in elections across 15 states showed no party has won the faith of Mexicans desperate to bring their country out of a quagmire of economic stagnation and relentless gang wars that have killed more than 23,000 people since Calderon took office three years ago.
Calderon’s conservative National Action Party won not a single state on its own, and lost two it had held, according to results on Monday, and needed desperate alliances with leftists to wrest strongholds from the old ruling party.
The PRI, demonstrated it remains Mexico’s most important political force, won nine of 12 governorships on Sunday.
Still, that was no change from the number it had before the ballot. And its defeat in three longtime bastion states indicated many Mexicans are still repulsed by the party that ruled through patronage and corruption from 1929 to 2000.
Sunday’s elections also displayed the intimidating power of drug cartels in the most embattled states. Only a third of voters showed up in the country’s most violent state, Chihuahua, where drug gangs hung four bodies from bridges on election day. Less than 40 percent voted in Tamaulipas, where gubernatorial candidate Rodolfo Torre was assassinated last week.
It’s not where Mexicans thought they would be when National Action’s Vicente Fox ousted the PRI in 2000 and promised a new era.
“I still remember the celebration when Vicente Fox won the presidential elections 10 years ago. It was as if Mexico had won the World Cup,” Mexican political scientist Leo Zuckerman wrote on Monday in Excelsior newspaper. “Where are we 10 years after the historic triumph of Fox?”
“I see multiple threats to democracy, which has not yet consolidated itself in Mexico. I think organized crime is the biggest challenge,” he said.
The PRI was widely seen as doomed after its loss to Fox, and it was a battered afterthought in the 2006 presidential election, when Calderon narrowly defeated a resurgent Democratic Revolution Party.
Four years later, Calderon’s ratings are slumping amid mass shootings, corruption scandals and kidnappings that remind Mexicans daily of the resilient power of drug cartels he has vowed to defeat.
Democratic Revolution — the PRI’s biggest competitor for the working class vote — has largely imploded amid internal wrangling.
In a sense, the left and right are back to where they were in the days of PRI rule: forced into uncomfortable alliances to tackle a powerful opponent.
Democratic Revolution joined Calderon’s party to win Sinaloa and Puebla behind coalition candidates who only recently bolted from the PRI. A similar coalition won in Oaxaca behind a minor-party candidate who quit the PRI a decade ago.
Though the results were largely due to local issues and local scandals, they were a blow to the PRI’s hope that Sunday would help propel it back to the presidency.
“We won in places where people came out and voted,” said Jose Sacramento, the defeated National Action candidate for governor in Tamaulipas.
But then, what’s the party plan for states where Calderon has failed to root out the cartels since launching his drug war at the end of 2006? In Tamaulipas, party leaders said they couldn’t even find candidates who dared to run for mayor in some gang-plagued towns.
“It was an election that began with blood and ended with blood and that was a factor because citizens were afraid to participate,” Sacramento said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big