Monday, September 8, 2014

Former Mexico City governor Marcelo Ebrard, a moderate leftist, loses bid to capture PRD helm

And its aging "moral leader" Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas is likewise rebuffed by the party rank and file

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), the nation's primary leftist voice since 1989, held its internal election Sunday for the man who will lead the party into the 2018 presidential contest.

Preliminary counts showed that the Progressive Movement coalition led by Marcelo Ebrard, 55, the popular governor of the Federal District (Mexico City) from 2006-2012, split about 27% of the votes cast with two other candidates. A faction known as the New Left, whose favorite son is Mexican Senator Carlos Navarrete, garnered 73%. Ballots are still being counted at this hour. The winner must obtain at least 60%.

Carlos Navarrete Ruiz, 59, served as Senate President from 2009-2010. He represents Guanajuato.

When he assumes the national chair of PRD on Oct. 5, Navarette will have his political fence mending chores cut out for him. The party will almost surely have to contend with ultra-left competitors four years from now, the most vocal of which is the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) founded by two time presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2012. Obrador has repeatedly announced that he will make an unprecedented third run for the presidency, "if citizens ask him to."

That would spell ballot box disaster for the Left in 2018, according to Ebrard, himself an aspirant for the nation's highest office. On Cinco de Mayo, PRD celebrates its 25th birthday.

Outgoing PRD chairman Jesús Zambrano has acknowledged that the greatest challenge the party faces in the years ahead, beginning with the 2015 local and state election cycle, is that presented by MORENA. Yesterday López Obrador called PRD's internal election fraudulent, provoking a strong rebuke from Zambrano, who labeled the fiery ultra-leftist a "political pirate."

PRD and MORENA officially remain united in some goals - most notably their fierce opposition to the administration's energy reforms, which they have called a sellout to foreign interests and a violation of Mexico's historic hydrocarbon sovereignty. MORENA opens campaign to repeal PEMEX reforms.

But 10 days ago Ebrad, in a national television interview, said "It's too late to undo the PEMEX reforms," and urged fellow perredistas to abandon the issue altogether - a comment viewed by some political analysts as an effort to distance himself from the intransigence of PRD's energy stance.

Marcelo Ebrard kept Mexico City running during his tenure

So far they haven't taken the hint. Last week Mexico's National Electoral Institute (INE) received over 2.3 million signatures from aggrieved citizens demanding a referendum on the energy reforms in 2015, despite the fact they became law on Aug. 12. The names were collected by a joint PRD-MORENA campaign which began in late 2013. Combined with 1.7 million signatures collected in December, the four million voter list arguably is enough to force a public plebiscite next year. But complex legal issues abound, and a repeal of the PEMEX reforms appears highly improbable.

In a March interview with the liberal page, Senator Navarrette discounted Ebrard as the next leader of PRD, but acknowledged that he would be an excellent candidate for president in 2018. Navarrette insisted, however, that PRD would remain committed in its opposition to the PEMEX reforms. Political analysts here concur that Navarrette likely will stay the course when he assumes the party's leadership, although the senator has expressed a desire to update and modernize PRD as the next national election approaches.

Another Ebrard opponent in Sunday's four person race was 80 year old Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, son of the man who nationalized Mexico's oil industry in March 1938. A year ago Cárdenas, who served as PRD governor of Mexico's Federal District from 1997 to 1999, told legislators that PRI president Enrique Peña Nieto's ultimate plan is to hand over the entire energy sector to private investors "We are facing the grave reality that the foreign petroleum producers which were expropriated in 1938 - now with new names - may return to manage the industry, and to decide who will be the long term beneficiaries of Mexico's vast hydrocarbon deposits," he said in the well of the Senate in September.

Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas still rails about the "death" of PEMEX and the alleged handover of its assets to foreigners

But Sunday's vote appears to be a solid rejection of the man who is both a founder and in the minds of Mexicans, the unquestioned "moral voice" of the Party of the Aztec Sun - PRD's political monicker.

Several million registered members of PRD participated in Sunday's process at more than 8,000 polling places across the nation, voting for thousands of local and state party officials as well. The federal INE conducted and supervised the election, during which only minor incidents were reported.

Marcelo Ebrard (left) and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, two leftists waiting in the wings for 2018. MORENA's leader could prove to be a party spoiler, Ebrard contends.

Dec. 14, 2013 - Mexico already looking ahead to 2018 presidential election
Nov. 15, 2011 - Andrés Manuel López Obrador is PRD's 2012 presidential candidate

Oct. 4, 2014 - Outgoing PRD chairman: "A break with López Obrador was inevitable"

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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