By RICARDO CASTILLO
There are two ways of looking at Mexico’s 2021 midterm elections: On the one hand, there will be the anticipated participation of the country’s seven existing political parties. On the other, there are still-undetermined organizations seeking registration with the National Electoral Institute (INE), and it is not clear whether they will get in or not.
According to INE figures, at least 106 political groups have requested registration within the time limit set at Feb. 28. Those not registering by then will have to wait until 2023, when registrations open again.
Yet, according to political observers — and even INE Official Councilor Marco Baños — there are only five of the 106 organizations that may get on board for participation in the 2021 midterm elections, in which the 500-member Chamber of Deputies will be renewed, 16 gubernatorial races will he decided and over 2,000 municipal mayors and state assemblies will be elected.
Two of these organizations that are very close to making the grade are parties that lost their right to participate two years ago because they did not meet the minimum 3 percent of the registered vote count in 2018.
One of them is the National Education Workers Union, backed by the New Alliance Party (Panal), and the other is the Social Encounter Party (PES), backed by protestant churches. In fact, in the current Mexican Congress, the PES wields both deputies and senators, but still, did not get enough votes in the 2018 elections to stay registered.
Three more potential registrations are the Progressive Social Networks, which ironically, is being founded by teachers’ union leader Elba Esther Gordillo, who also founded Panal in 2007.
Second comes the Freedom and Democratic Responsibility Party, headed by former presidential hopeful Margarita Zavala and former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, both migrants from the National Action Party (PAN).
A third potential party is the Social Force for Mexico, headed by Senator Pedro Haces and Puebla State Deputy Gerardo Islas. Haces, who was elected by the current majority National Regeneration Movement (Morena), has been rejected by the Morena leadership.
INE Council Member Baños has said that the announcement of those who made it, and those who did not, will be made at the very latest on July 1. But he forecast that it will not come as a surprise if some 12 parties participate in the 2021 midterm elections.
In the meantime, some of the existing parties are trembling as to what may happen to them. Of particular note is the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has lost voter credibility galore and is not gaining new ground under its current president, Alejandro (“Alito”) Moreno.
But still, the PRI has not yet reached political bankruptcy, even after the whipping it took from Morena at the polls in 2018. The PRI still wields the governance of 12 states and 1,500 municipalities, and boasts the largest number of registered voters in the country, with 34 percent. Registered voters, however, are not hard votes. The PRI has lost a lot of ground to Morena, which received 53 percent of the total votes in 2018, while the PRI only got 16.
Another political organization gearing up for 2021 is no doubt the PAN, which received 34 percent of the vote in the 2018 presidential election and has a meaningful presence both in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
Current leader Marko Cortés, however, as undergone several mishaps with the PAN membership, including the splinter from the party by Calderón and his wife Zavala, who, in forming their new party, have taken a hefty number of PAN members with them.
Also, Cortés is preaching that the party will regain the Chamber of Deputies to start undoing all the legislations Morena has passed over the past year and a half, such as promoting tax cuts in fuels and fostering small businesses.
Cortés has said that from now on, the national PAN leadership, with the support of 12 governors as well as deputies and senators, is getting ready to present a powerful front in 2021. But regardless of the enthusiasm Cortés is boasting, the PAN is limping badly in the polls.
Other minority parties, such as the Labor and Green parties, will be competing, but in unity with the Morena majority.
But in reality, all eyes are now what will happen in the National Regeneration Movement’s future. For now, Morena is undergoing a schism, and its very future as the majority party depends on what happens within in the coming months.
Morena President Yeidckol Polevnsky was disclaimed as president on Jan. 26 during a “national congress” led by Bertha Luján. At that congress, the assembly elected Deputy Alfonso Ramírez Cuellar as “interim president,” with the objective of carrying out elections.
On Friday, Jan. 31, Polevnsky filed a protest with the Electoral Tribunal, claiming that the call to hold the congress was illegitimate and the election of Ramírez Cuellar as pro tempore president “has no sustainment in the internal statutes of Morena.”
But the inside fight goes far beyond the impugnation of the results of the national congress. Now it seems that Polevnsky does not have the backing of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who has let go of the reigns of Morena and rejected anything to do with the internal workings of the party. “I’m not going to mess around,” he said. “Let them solve their problem themselves.” However, AMLO neither condemned nor rejected the arrival of Ramírez Cuellar as the interim president.
What is certain is that if Morena does not settle its internal dispute out of court, it will surely pay the price at the polls next year, and there is talk already of creating two parties out of the existing “Movement.”
That’s grossly the current outlook of Mexican political parties previous to the 2021 midterm elections, with the main question being: Will Morena survive its internal war?
That remains to be seen!