Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

A paradoxical sign of weakness

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 29, 2011

by T.W. for The Americas View, March 29th, 2011.

Election results in the state of Mexico, which wraps around Mexico City, are seen (often wrongly) as barometers of the national political mood. With 15m inhabitants, the state is nearly twice as big as any other in the country. Its social mix roughly matches that of Mexico overall. And every six years it elects its governor exactly one year before the country votes for president, making it an irresistible talking point for political rune readers. It has actually proved an unreliable oracle of late: in 1999 and 2005 the state’s voters elected governors from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), whereas the country plumped for presidents from the National Action Party (PAN) in 2000 and 2006.

But the state’s election of a new governor this July matters for different reasons. The incumbent, Enrique Peña Nieto, is the front-runner to become the PRI’s candidate in next year’s presidential election. With the PRI well ahead in national opinion polls, Mr Peña is widely seen as the man most likely to inherit the presidential sash. But the deal is by no means sealed: even his supporters admit that a rout of the PRI in the governor’s race this summer would be a serious blow to his credibility and his candidacy. Talk of an electoral alliance against the PRI has made this a real possibility.

At the weekend, via what looked like a traditional dedazo (hand-picking), Mr Peña chose Eruviel Ávila, the mayor of the municipality of Ecatepec, as the PRI’s candidate to succeed him. With 1.6m people, Ecatepec is the country’s biggest municipality, giving Mr Ávila a high profile in the state—and, the PRI must hope, a good chance of bringing in the votes. (continue reading… )



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