09 April 2010

Roberto Madrazo surfaces

He's back! Former PRI presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo surfaced last week in Monterrey, where he blasted the PAN-PRD alliances, formed to challenge the PRI in the July 4 gubernatorial races, for lacking "scruples."

His outburst marked the latest outburst by a prominent Priísta against the alliances between the right-leaning PAN and left-leaning PRD that aim to defeat the PRI in some the party's most solid strongholds such as Oaxaca, Puebla and Hidalgo - all places, like Madrazo's home state of Tabasco, with notorious reputations for retrograde politics, authoritarian governance and elections that are anything but squeaky clean.

"What they're uniting for is only an interest in power for the sake of power itself. You can't unite ideologies so different as those that exist between the the PAN and PRD with the lone proposal of defeating the PRI," Madrazo said.

Of course, the PRI - like many political parties - could be accused of seeking power the sake of power itself and being unscrupulous for trying to unite disparate viewpoints on contentious social and economic issues. After all, PRI party president Beatriz Paredes - a woman often accused of lacking the courage of her convictions - has been taken to task for playing up her "social democratic" and feminist tendencies, but staying silent as 18 state governments, the majority of them run by the PRI, outlawed abortion under all circumstances.

And Madrazo would know a thing or two about seeking power for the sake of power, too. Many of his actions as PRI president last decade were made with an eye toward capturing the 2006 presidential nomination. He developed a sordid reputation for hardball politics. The PRI was an obstructionist force in Congress under his watch and he clashed with SNTE teachers' union boss Elba Esther Gordillo and many state governors - who not only stayed on the sidelines during his presidential campaign, but made sure he didn't win.

Madrazo's motives for blasting the coalition are unknown, but the move reflects a general unease among Priístas over the issue of the electoral coalitions formed to confront them. (Recall the supposed PAN-PRI deal to have the PRI back a tax increase if the PAN wouldn't form an electoral alliance for the 2011 State of Mexico gubernatorial election.) Madrazo, for all of his enemies in the PRI, gained his much of his support in Southern Mexico and in orphan states - states such as Jalisco, Guanajuato and Baja California, places that have solid bases of PRI support, but no powerful PRI governors to marshal votes for preferred candidates. Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz - whose regime is so despised by the PAN and PRD that they would unite against it - was a solid Madrazo backer, which perhaps helps to explain the outburst.

Madrazo would know about coalitions, too.

The infamous TUCOM (Everyone United Against Madrazo) formed during the PRI primary to select a single candidate that would face Madrazo for the nomination. TUCOM chose State of Mexico Gov. Arturo Montiel, who was subsequently sandbagged - allegedly by Madrazo's campaign - for ethical problems that included his owning properties in Europe and such luxury spots as Careyes, an exclusive enclave on Jalisco's Costa Alegre.

Madrazo's 2006 PRI presidential campaign also struck a deal with the Green Party - even though the PVEM had a promising candidate in Bernardo de la Garza. In the waning days of the campaign, he welcomed back the campesino wing of the now defunct Alternativa party - the same gang that advanced the nomination of discount drug baron Víctor González Torres (aka: Dr. Simi) and clashed with the party's 2006 nominee, Patricia Mercado.

His coalition building all amounted to a hill a beans, however. Madrazo led a badly divided PRI to its worst finish ever as he gained barely 22 percent of the popular vote and failed to win a plurality in any of the Republic's 31 states or the Federal District.

Election failure did little to remedy is bad reputation. He entered a German marathon in 2007 and won his age group, but, mysteriously, he didn't pass through all of the checkpoints along the course and was disqualified.

Now he's back - clean-shaven - perhaps proving that no reputation is ever too unsavoury for Mexico's political system, which has an enormous capacity for recycling disgraced figures.

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