Mexico: Madrazo in third place

On November 15, commenting on a poll that had PRD candidate López Obrador (“AMLO”) at 39%, the PRI’s dinosaur Madrazo at 29%, and newly nominated PAN candidate Calderón at 25%, I said:

The real race right now is for second place […] If Calderón can pull ahead of Madrazo, I could see it developing into a two-way race between the PAN and PRD, pushing the PRI into into 25-percent territory.

Well, I never imagined it could happen so fast.

As boz reports, a more recent Reforma poll suggests just such a dynamic could be happening:

AMLO 29%
Calderon 28%
Madrazo 21%

The PRI candidate at just over a fifth of the vote. That’s remarkable, and could mark a real shift. I wonder what this might mean for congress (about which I speculated in my earlier post)and the cohesiveness of the broader PRI. I still suspect the PRI will retain a congressional plurality, though if their presidential candidate collapses much more, even that could be in doubt.

Meanwhile, boz also has a good attack on the conventional left-right interpretation of Latin American politics. I have long matintained (in my classes on the subject) that the real political divide, especially in developing countries, is often not left-right, but programmatic-particularistic. (By “programmatic” think broad policy and public goods; by “particularistic” think patronage and pork.)

In some countries the “left” is the programmatic option (e.g. Brazil, though recent revelations of corruption in the PT have damaged its reputation). Elsewhere it is the “right” (e.g. Uribe in Colombia).

In Mexico, the “right” was the programmatic option in 2000. If the Mexican race really puts the PAN and the PRD as the two main competitors for the presidency, then Mexico would see an unusual case (for Latin America) of two programmatic parties competing. Then it would be a real left-right contest, which would be quite a healthy development for the country’s democracy.

0 thoughts on “Mexico: Madrazo in third place

  1. Thanks for the links and the comments.

    I like the programmatic-particularistic concept. Any books or articles you can recommend on that framework?

    On the Mexican Congressional elections, the PRI still lead in all the polls and have advantages at the local level. They’ll likely retain the plurality (and the ability to stifle presidential initiatives) in the Congress. However, the primary fight, the disagreements of the Northern governors and the split of the teacher’s union with the party leadership is a sign that the party is nowhere near the unified machine that it once was.

  2. The PRI has become largely an alliance of state-level political machines. The party still does quite well at that level. Gordillo and her teachers union are clearly increasingly uncomfortable in such an alliance, but the two wings of the PRI need each other. I think it is not likely that either of those wings would wind up in an electoral alliance with the PAN or the PRD, so they will have to continue an uneasy accommodation. As long as they can be the pivotal party in congress (or even better, the plurality party), from where they can continue to extract particularistic concessions for their state machines, they have a very strong incentive to stick together. And I think they can count on that almost indefinitely.

    As for the particularistic-programmatic distinction, the idea is scattered throughout the literature. There is really no one grand synthesis yet. A few things I would recommened are Herbert Kitschelt’s review article in Comparative Political Studies (2000) and some of his other more recent work. Ethan Scheiner’s new book on Japan is built in part around this framework. (Both of these authors use “clientelism” for what I call “particularism”; I think clientelism is a more specific term, a subset of particularism.) Some of my own work is built around this framework, too–especially my work on Colombia and on electoral “efficiency” (navigate via the link to my academic website at the top of the right sidebar).

    I also have posted on this concept in the category, Politics and Policy-making.

    Or you could come take my class. 🙂

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