Ernesto Cordero (left) and Gustavo Madero kept the lid on the contest, with victory in 2018 the ultimate goal of both men
Gustavo Madero Muñoz has been elected to again lead Mexico's center right National Action Party (PAN), capturing 56.7% of the ballots cast by the rank and file today.
More than 156,000 of the party's 217,000 active members voted. Today's direct election of the party chair was the first ever held by PAN, which was founded almost 75 years ago, in September 1939. Previously the position was filled by committees or party bosses.
Results of the intraparty contest were released by PAN officials Sunday evening, the day on which all Mexican political elections are held.
"I want to open PAN's doors to every Mexican, and make it the strongest party in this country," said Madero after the tally was announced. He will be sworn in for his second term Thursday.
Madero, 58, was first elected the National Action Party chair in December 2010. His previous term covered the last national elections held in this country.
Madero's opponent was Ernesto Cordero, who was a PAN primary candidate in Mexico's 2012 presidential election. Cordero lost to Josefina Vázquez Mota, who crushed her opponents in the primary but was in turn steam rolled by PRI nominee Enrique Peña Nieto in the country's general election July 1, 2012. Enrique Peña Nieto captures Mexican presidency, returns Los Pinos to PRI.
In January 2012, Cordero campaigned on a promise to take down Mexico's then most wanted narco boss, who had eluded the previous PAN administrations of former presidents Vicente Fix and Felipe Calderón. PAN's Ernesto Cordero promises, "I'll get El Chapo Guzmán if I'm elected president."
Cordero won 43.2% of the PAN internal vote today. In a Twitter message to supporters he said, "PAN is much more than a race among our party's candidates. We are all part of PAN. PAN belongs to all Mexicans."
The center right PAN, the center left Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the far left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) are Mexico's three largest and most powerful political parties.
PAN held onto Mexico's presidency for more than a decade, from 2000 to 2012, after Fox broke PRI's then decades long stranglehold on Los Pinos, the chief executive's mansion.
In a strange twist, Fox was forced out of PAN in December 2012, after he infuriated the party faithful by openly endorsing Peña Nieto over Vázquez Mota in that year's election. Former president Vicente Fox quits National Action Party.
PAN arrived in distant third place in 2012, with many political analysts suggesting the public was weary of the drug war policies of Calderón. To the dismay of some and surprise of most, Peña Nieto has followed exactly the same strategy, if indeed not an enhanced version of it.
Some blamed Madero for PAN's loss two years ago - he was party chair at the time - while others said Vázquez Mota should have emphasized her differences from fellow party member Calderón. In any case PAN members did not hold the party's 2012 defeat against Madero in today's balloting.
PAN is focused on recapturing the presidency in four years, as are many others. Mexico already looking ahead to 2018 presidential election.
Hours after Madero's victory, a Mexican political columnist opined that PAN will plainly be Mexico's second most powerful political force in 2018, "given the great capacity of the Left for self-destruction" - a pointed reference to two time presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has already declared that he will run a third time. On Cinco de Mayo, PRD celebrates its 25th birthday.
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