By JESSICA GUERRERO
MORELIA, Michoacán — Mexico’s complex political system has historically stood out from those of other Latin American nations for conforming a multiparty structure composed of a wide variety of political organizations.
The favorable conditions promoted by the country’s National Electoral Institute (INE) for the creation of new political parties have been key factors for the evergreen emergence of citizen groups with widely varied political affinities in Mexico, which can request the INE to issue a license for them to become officially recognized political parties once they have met minimum requirements established by the regulations of this institution.
Currently, there are seven official parties in Mexico registered with the INE.
Of these, at least three have existed for longer than 30 years: the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), founded in 1929; the National Action Party (PAN), founded in 1939; and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), founded in 1989.
The first two parties have been historically the predominant ones in the political life of the country since the 20th century.
The PRI is considered to be centralist and the PAN represents the nation’s right
And, until a couple of years ago, the PRD was considered a left-wing party that, without ever reaching the presidency of Mexico, enjoyed a great boom in state governorships in the southeast of the country during the last few decades.
The other younger parties for the most part have remained low-key and have basically served as allies to the three parties mentioned above, adding congressional votes to their ranks. Among them are the Labor Party (PT), the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) and the Citizen’s Movement (MC).
But the birth of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party a decade ago dramatically changed that template.
Despite being the youngest political party inthe country, Morena swept the last presidential elections in 2018 when Mexico’s current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was elected to office with 53.19 percent of the votes, representing more than 30 million ballots out of the 56 million ballot in that election.
Morena also won 11 out of the 15 disputed governorships during last June’s elections, although it did lose significant ground in Mexico City.
Coalitions were the only way for the old-school parties to keep some governorships and seats in the Senate.
The unthinkable happened in the June elections, when historically opposed parties such as the PAN and the PRD joined in a coalition called “Va por México,” together with the PRI in various states, such as Michoacán, where despite joining forces in the election, they failed to outweigh Morena, which obtained the majority of votes.
All this has generated a great crisis for the older, more established parties (the PAN, PRI and PRD), whicn have not only lost hegemony in several governorships in the country, but also in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, where Morena on its own has more representatives than any other single party.
Despite unsuccessful attempts by its leaders to refresh and modernize the image of the PRI, the party, which ruled the nation for nearly 70 years, has not managed to regain the interest of voters left with a sour taste after the corruption scandals in which many of the prominent members of this party were allegedly involved, such as the ongoing Odebrecht case.
Even so, this party continues to present a more or less solid structure.
This has not been the case, however, of the PAN, whose structure appears visibly fragmented and with little cohesion among its members.
This became evident when some of its most important militants, such as former President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and his wife Margarita Zavala Gómez del Campo resigned from this party in 2018, after receiving little support in their own political aspirations.
They argued that the PAN had ceased to be an instrument of citizen participation for the construction of a better nation that its early founders had sought.
There has also been attrition by other famous PAN militants who have resigned its ranks, such as former President Vicente Fox and Federal Deputy German Martínez, among others.
The imminent crisis within the PAN seems to keep spiraling downhill.
The PRI’s own president, Marko Cortés, recently made controversial statements exposing his lack of confidence in the party’s future by forecasting a defeat for it in the next elections in 2022, where he said that the PAN has only one possibility of winning a single governorship, of the six that will be up for grabs next year.
Cortés’ statements comments generated considerable indignation within the party, to the extent that his immediate resignation has been demanded by a group of high-level PAN members.
Gustavo Madero, one of the founding militants of the PAN and a current senator for the party, has confirmed that the PAN is currently going through a severe crisis caused by the failed leadership of Cortés. He further said that if there is no immediate change in the leadership of the party, the PAN will not be able to compete against its opponents in the next presidential elections.
The defeatist attitude of Cortés constituted a low blow against the party’s militants and will no doubt have an impact on the preference of voters in the next elections since they reveal a fragmented party without a clear course for the future.
Likewise, the PAN’s link with the ultra-rightist Spanish party Vox has further alienated voters.
This controversial situation came to light when it was announced that members of Vox would work closely with a fraction of PAN militants to create an ultra-conservative political force that would eventually represent a counterweight to Morena.
Finally, the PAN has suffered a considerable erosion of its ideological identity in recent years due to its desperate alliances and coalitions with historically opposite parties.