The apparent victories of the PAN-PRD coalitions in the PRI strongholds of Oaxaca, Puebla, and Sinaloa vindicates the controversial strategy of President Felipe Calderón and PAN party president César Nava of forming state-level alliances with the PRD (and other left parties). In Oaxaca, coalition candidate Gabino Cué (originally from Convergencia) won 50% to 42% for Eviel Pérez, the protege of outgoing governor Ulises Ruiz. In Puebla, coalition standard bearer Rafael Moreno Valle won 52% to 41% for Javier López, the anointed successor to Mario Marín. Finally, in Sinaloa, coalition candidate Mario López Valdez (“Malova,” who until recently was a priista) beat Jesús Vizcarra of the PRI by 52%-46%. In all three states, this is the first time ever that anyone other than the PRI has ever won the state governorship.
Noted columnist Héctor Aguilar Camín, “Democracy is surprising, and defends itself well against predictions. The “unnatural” alliances of the PAN and PRD against the PRI have triumphed, far beyond what was expected. … The day, which had seemed for months like it would be a walk in the park for the PRI, has turned into a challenge for the party. It’s return to first place among voters happened, but in a competitive context that had seemed very unlikely.” (Milenio 7/5)
The coalition victories also strengthen the hand of PRD party president Jesús Ortega against Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who bitterly opposed the coalitions.
Another big winner would appear to be Teachers’ Union head Elba Esther Gordillo. The mobilization of the Union in favor of coalition candidates in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Sinaloa is being given credit for the PAN-PRD victories there. On the other hand, where the Union stood on the sidelines, as in Veracruz, the PRI won handily.
Finally, the success of the coalitions greatly increases the likelihood that the PAN and PRD will try to form a coalition for the State of Mexico gubernatorial elections in July 2011 — in what will certainly be viewed as the opening act for the 2012 presidential succession and a test for PRI front runner and current State of Mexico governor Enrique Peña Nieto. Failure of Peña Nieto to deliver the governorship of his own state would be a severe blow to his presidential ambitions and current aura of invincibility.
A Reforma poll showed a dead heat in race for the governorship of Oaxaca. The candidate for the PAN-PRD-PT-Covergencia coalition, Gabino Cué, has a 1% lead over the PRI-PVEM candidate Eviel Pérez. Cué, the former mayor of Oaxaca city is well-known, respected, and possibly the PAN’s best chance for avoiding a clean sweep by the PRI in the July 4 gubernatorial races. Pérez is the protégé of outgoing PRI governor Ulises Ruiz. (Reforma 5/19)
In what may be the most closely fought of the July elections, the formal campaign for governor of Oaxaca formally began. The race pits Gabino Cué, as the standard bearer of the PRD–PT–Convergencia–PAN alliance, against Eviel Pérez Magaña, the right hand man of outgoing Governor Ulises Ruiz. An Ipsos poll gives Cué a 44%-25% lead over Pérez Magaña. (Universal 4/30)
The climate in the state was marked by the ambush of a human rights caravan that left two human rights activists dead (one from Finland), three wounded, and three disappeared, allegedly at the hands of paramilitaries in the Triqui region of the state. Governor Ruiz called for the expulsion of foreigners from the state. Cue said, “Everybody knows that the lack of public security in Oaxaca today is the responsibility of Ulises Ruiz.” (Universal 5/2, 5/1, Frontline Defenders 4/29)
PRD Secretary General Hortensia Aragón confirmed that the party’s National Political Commission planned to endorse electoral alliances with the PAN in Durango, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, and possibly Puebla in this July’s state elections. She noted that the PRD did not have any real candidates of its own in these states. Her view was backed, importantly, by Alejandro Encinas, AMLO’s representative in the PRD leadership. Encinas (the head of the PRD delegation in the Chamber) denied that the alliances were like “mixing oil and water,” since no formal ideological commitments were being made. The most prominent likely joint gubernatorial candidates are Gabino Cué in Oaxaca and Xóchitl Gálvez in Hidalgo. (Universal 1/22)
PAN Senator Santiago Creel confirmed in a radio interview with journalist Carmen Aristegui that he will seek his party’s 2012 presidential nomination, becoming the first national figure to throw his hat in the ring. Creel tried to play down internal party rivalry, saying that he was not competing against Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio, who is also viewed as a contender, while carving out a nuanced position on electoral alliances. “I am not competing against anyone. What I want to see is a vigorous party that returns to its origins, to its identity, that doesn’t make these unspeakable alliances, alliances with [Teachers’ Union president] Elba Esther [Gordillo], alliances that we won’t be able to sustain afterwards, neither ideologically nor programmatically. But I also think that there are alliances that are sustainable, such as the case of Gabino Cué [in Oaxaca] or Xóchitl Gálvez [in Hidalgo],” he said. (Universal 1/23)