By RICARDO CASTILLO
Bad old habits die hard.
Since time immemorial, when the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) enters into electoral periods, all affiliates let the president in turn appoint the next presidential nominee.
In political circles, everyone is talking about who will be President Enrique Peña Nieto’s selection.
There are several hopefuls whose names are being tossed around. The leading potential candidates are all cabinet members. but let’s not mention anyone of them for the moment so as not to join into the guessing game in course.
This process used to be called “the succession,” since in the old one-party political system, the PRI candidate had the full support of the administration and victory assured.
Nevertheless, since there have been clean elections starting in the year 2000, the PRI lost out to the National Action Party (PAN) two elections in a row, and finally regained the presidency in 2012.
Elections are every six years and for sure the PRI does not have “the succession” assured this time around as it did in the past.
At present, different members of the cabinet are attracting the spotlight, but again, at the PRI the president will have the final say.
Moreover, electoral rules and timing are now regulated by the National Electoral Institute (INE) – an independent organization that oversees electoral cleanliness – and all contending parties have to follow established dates.
All parties have to register their potential nominees no later than Dec, 14, when pre-campaigns kick off.
Most parties are expected to nominate several hopefuls and make a definite choice after internal primary elections are held.
The nominees must be named no later than Feb. 11.
The INE also manages the electoral ads each party has a right to, and here is where things start getting complicated, particularly for the old PRI.
If President Peña Nieto chooses the PRI candidate by Dec. 14 and the candidate runs unopposed within the party, the 2.8 million ads PRI will have a right to air only general spots on radio and TV, without mentioning the candidate’s name.
The candidate will have the right to travel around the nation during the pre-campaign period and will have to wait until Mar. 30, when the full-fledged campaign begins.
Appointing two candidates to contend in the pre-campaign period poses a dangerous threat for PRI.
At present, Peña Nieto has managed to keep the party together, but if two hopefuls run in the primary, the PRI runs the risk of a rupture and ending up with a weakened candidate.
Given this scenario, plus the fact that the PRI does not presently enjoy a good image due to a myriad of corrupt former governors, several now in jail, it is possible that Peña Nieto will make his appointment on Feb. 11. when the pre-campaign period ends.
His final deadline will be Mar, 30, when formal campaigning starts.
In either case, the president’s pick of his “successor” (provided the PRI is not booted out of power again next year) will not come easy.
But following the old habit, the entire PRI is nowadays waiting for Peña Nieto to lift off the hood – a liturgy known as “el destape.” or the uncovering – of “the good one” in order to back up their candidate.
And, of course, as it’s been in the past, the presidential pick will leave a lot of people unhappy as many within the PRI would like to do away with this system and hold primaries to pick the most popular candidate.
But that will not happen this time around.
Like I said, bad old habits die hard and this is one of them.