Jorge Castañeda, one of Mexico’s leading public policy intellectuals and Foreign Minister under Vicente Fox, wrote today that he was giving up his long-time quest to run as an independent candidate for President. And he threw his support to independent Senator Armando Ríos Piter, who resigned from the PRD and declared his candidacy in February.
Comparing the political situation in Mexico to that of France, Castañeda wrote in his column that while the objective conditions in Mexico were even more favorable than in France for a fresh political voice to triumph, the electoral system made it very unlikely, especially with a multiplicity of potential independent candidates. To have a chance of unseating the discredited partidocracy, voters would have to rally around a single independent candidate:
After more than a year of considerable effort, it is evident to me that … this unity candidate will not be me. However, I believe there are others who can meet the requirements: of freshness, a breadth of support, an ability to get people out. One in particular: El Jaguar, [Armando] Ríos Piter can count on my total support, in this fight that has barely begun.
Castañeda was personally the major force in making independent candidacies possible in Mexico. In 2004, he started a political and legal challenge to the electoral laws that gave registered political parties exclusive right to name candidates for office. His case went to the Mexican Supreme Court, where he lost. He appealed to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where ultimately he was again turned down, in appeals that lasted into 2013. However, while the case was pending, Congress approved independent candidates in the 2007 electoral reform. (And in 2015, the voters of Nuevo León elected Jaime Rodríguez, El Bronco, governor — the first independent to win a major political office.)