21 July 2008

Annulment solves little for PRD

Annulment solves little for PRD

The News

The two frontrunners in the Democratic Revolution Party´s internal election on Sunday blasted an internal decision to annul the party´s March 16 leadership vote, setting the stage for more factional infighting at the nation´s largest leftist party.

Candidate Jesús Ortega, the front man of a pragmatic faction known as the New Left, said that the party known as the PRD "is shooting itself in the foot" by annulling the election that he had led by 16,000 votes over rival Alejandro Encinas.

"With this, it´s only causing damage to the PRD and bringing about further discredit in the eyes of the media and the public," he added.

Ortega said that he would petition the federal electoral tribunal, or Trife, to overturn the annulment.

The PRD´s three-member Guarantees Committee voted late Saturday to void the internal election due to allegations of irregularities at more than 20 percent of the polling stations, among other problems.

If the Trife upholds the annulment, party bylaws say the PRD´s National Committee must meet within 30 days to set a new election date.

Encinas, who was projected as the early winner by a quick-count program and two exit polls, said the annulled election was a "triumph of cheats and scoundrels."

"They´ve stripped us of a real and legal [victory]," he said, adding that he would no longer negotiate for a compromise.

Encinas, who belongs to the party´s hard-line United Left faction, demanded another election be held within 45 days.

The annulment leaves the PRD without a permanent party president and under pressure to resolve its infighting before fielding candidates in the 2009 midterm elections.

Guadalupe Acosta will continue as interim president, but the Encinas camp refuses to recognize his leadership.

Ortega´s and Encinas´ factions are divided over whether or not they should work cooperatively with the federal government or continue in their role as an anti-establishment player in the nation´s political scene.

Allegations of vote tampering, ballot box thefts and outside interference from non-PRD state governors were rife throughout the campaign and election. Prior to the vote, former presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador drew criticism for backing Encinas and signing campaign materials deemed inappropriate by the party - a violation cited Saturday by the Guarantees Committee in its annulment decision.

The rival campaigns met last week to seek a resolution to the impasse, but talks stalled when Encinas insisted on Acosta´s ouster, El Universal reported.

The annulment did not surprise political observers.

"It was very predictable . given the irregularities and outside interference," said Aldo Muñoz, political science professor at the Universidad Iberoamericana.

Some in the PRD had been calling for an annulment prior to the Guarantees Committee´s announcement.

"It´s already been too long ... we´re no longer in a position to move forward," PRD Dep. Aleida Alavez, an Encinas supporter, told The News in a recent interview.

"No one gives an inch, no one owns up to his mistakes or errors in the internal elections," she added. "What would help most would be an annulment and later having a serious, responsible discussion in the party´s National Congress."

A National Congress is a provisional forum for PRD members to vote on leaders and statutes, she said.

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