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Monday, July 21, 2014

Mexico's New Parties may bring Modern Faces to Old Politics

By Adriana Peralta

The Latest Players in Mexico's Electoral Arena Must Survive the Next Election

Two parties have reigned over Mexico for (some 85 years), as has the corruption of concentrated power, but a new playing field is emerging.

On July 9 the National Electoral Institute of Mexico (INE) unanimously approved the creation of three new political parties: the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador; the Humanist Party (PH), led by Ignacio Irys Salomón, Ricardo Pinacho Ruíz, and Javier López Macías; and the Social Encounter Party (PES), linked with the evangelic and synarquist movements, led by Eric Flores.

Lorenzo Córdova, president of the INE, declared that these new parties will each receive public funding, starting in August, and they will be allowed to compete in next year’s federal elections. He also stated that the expansion of the electoral roster will not mean a higher financial burden for the Mexican government.

“Today’s society has created a kind of interpretation for the granting of registrations which presupposes that public spending will increase. I say it categorically: this is not the case,” Córdova affirmed during the extraordinary session of the INE General Council. This means the MX$4 billion (approximately US$309 million) that parties will receive this year in funding will now be divided by ten instead of seven.*

The three new parties began their registration process in January 2013. By August 1, they will enjoy the same privileges afforded to other political parties under the law. They will also be granted radio and television airtime.

To maintain their current status, the new parties will need to obtain more than 3 percent of the vote during the next election, and maintain a membership of at least 219,608.

López Obrador Returns to Politics

The popular progressive leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador registered the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), and he will seek the Mexican presidency for the third time in the 2018 elections.

MORENA began as a political movement, led by López Obrador, which was formalized as a political party in September 2012. López Obrador ran for president in 2012 as the leader of the Coalition for the Good of All, formed by the PRD, PT, and Citizen’s Movement.

After the party’s official registration, López Obrador took to Twitter to express his excitement.

According to its declaration of principles, MORENA was created based on the premise that “contemporary Mexico, its political life and institutions, are blemished by corruption, simulation, and authoritarianism.” It goes on to say that in spite of this corruption, “millions of Mexicans work hard and honestly on a daily basis, practice solidarity, and organize themselves to stop this outdated regime.”

“[MORENA] seeks the democratic transformation of the country: a political, economic, social, and cultural change. This will be achieved by introducing ethical principles to our movement and defending human rights, liberty, justice, and dignity of all,” the declaration affirms.

However, for Victor Becerra, coordinator of Mexico’s Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty, López Obrador’s latest political project is as much a reward for his perseverance as it is for his incoherence.

“After harshly criticizing electoral authorities for many years, now López Obrador decides to believe in them. Of course, doing so while using the MX$4 billion in electoral privileges that parties receive, plus the radio and television airtime that his institute now has the right to access. Now, Mexican taxpayers not only must maintain a bloated Mexican bureaucracy, but also those who aspire to become part of it,” said Becerra.

This new political party could potentially further divide an already fragmented progressive movement in Mexico. MORENA is a split faction of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), the largest progressive party in Mexico. The first electoral contest in which MORENA will participate will be next year’s general elections, when Mexico renews its lower chamber of Congress, several state governments, and hundreds of local mayors. Progressives have never won the National Palace, the seat of executive power, but they count on the support of the Federal District where they have governed since 1997.

Humanist Party Participation

The Humanist Party (PH) was founded as a civil association in Mexico City. It is currently led by Ignacio Iris Salomón, former director of the National Campesina Confederation (CNC), together with Ricardo Pinacho Ruíz and Jabier López Macías.

The party defines itself as a “cross-organization without extremism,” which cannot be classified within what they call the “false left-right paradigm.” Under the motto “with your participation, together we will solve problems,” the party aims to “promote public participation in democratic life, contribute to the integration of national representation, and to make political power accessible to all citizens.”

“The current party system restricts the participation of citizens and the political plurality,” the Humanist Party asserts, having just registered as a political party on July 9. “Politics and parties in general suffer from a significant deterioration, and to improve it requires a political system that encourages greater political competition and, therefore, the emergence of new options,” states the party’s declaration of principles.

Social Encounter: The Family Party

The Social Encounter Party (PES) began in 2001 as a national political group, without funding from the government.

Since January, the new party has been linked to the Evangelical Church. One of its leaders, Eric Flores, is an evangelical pastor, although he denies the party is a religious organization.

PES defines itself as a “the family party,” and promotes the preservation of traditional values through the political process. It claims, however, to support the separation of church and state.

According to its declaration of principles, PES began as “an alternative aimed to channel the concerns and responsibilities of a group of citizens who, in the past few years, have grown concerned with the economic, political, social, and moral decomposition of our state. These processes have multiple origins and effects, are reproduced in the whole social structure, and create a permanent climate of uncertainty, distrust, despair, and violence.”

Eric Flores is experienced in the political field. He was a member of the PRI in the 1990s, and he has collaborated with PAN administrations. His electoral groups have also struck alliances with several political parties.

* note: The INE budget approved at the beginning of the year, for 2014, is MX$3.8 billion [US$293,364,000], which supposedly is not an additional taxpayer burden insofar as the original amount was planned for distribution among ten, and not seven, political parties for the remainder of 2014.  Each of the three new political entities will have access to MX$31.7 billion pesos, from August to December of this year, for ordinary activities.  As well, they will receive MX$1.4 million for specific activities, such as the publication of books; MX$3.1 million in postal franking; and MX$28,895 pesos in telegraphic expenses.  (La Jornada, Mexico, D.F., July 16, 2014)


This commentary, "Mexico's New Parties Bring Modern Face to Old Politics," was first published in PanAm Post on Jul. 15, 2014, and reposted per a Creative Commons authorization.  Translated by PanAm Post staff.  Adriana Peralta is a freedom advocate from El Salvador and a @CREO_org board member.  She is a PanAm Post reporter and blogger, a 2005 Ruta Quetzal scholar, a trained engineer, and an SMC University masters student in political economy.  She is also a Pink Floyd fan.  Follow @AdriPeraltaM.  Translated by Pablo Schollaert.

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