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Party Chaos Threatens Mexican President's Administration

Supporters of Porfirio Munoz Ledo gather outside Morena party headquarters amid elections to select the party's leader in Mexico City, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. The ruling party is making its third try at electing a party leader. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Supporters of Porfirio Munoz Ledo gather outside Morena party headquarters amid elections to select the party's leader in Mexico City, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. The ruling party is making its third try at electing a party leader. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador created his own party to win Mexico's presidency. Now its internal weakness and divisions threaten to undermine his administration.

MEXICO CITY: Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador created his own party to win Mexico’s presidency. Now its internal weakness and divisions threaten to undermine his administration.

Lpez Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement known to all in Mexico as Morena is making a third try to elect a party president, and it’s not going well.

It has tried to use a sort of public opinion poll run by the federal electoral agency, and the result is a bitter dispute between an 87-year-old political warhorse who previously led two other parties and his less prominent 48-year-old rival.

Immediately at stake is the president’s now perilously thin majority in Congress, with midterm elections set for next year and the party lacking formal organization in most of Mexico’s 32 states. It holds only seven governorships, in coalitions with other parties.

Beyond that is the question of whether Morena, in its present form, will outlast the presidency of its creator, who is constitutionally barred from reelection.

Morena exists only because Lpez Obrador was unable to fully control the leftist party that sponsored his first two, unsuccessful runs for the presidency, Democratic Revolution.

When legal maneuvers left rivals in charge of the party known as the PRD, Lpez Obrador by far its most popular figure led a mass exodus and turned Morena into a party in 2014.

He wove together his fellow PRD dissidents with breakaway members from other parties some true believers, some jumping on the bandwagon of a man who was clearly favored to win the presidency in 2018 and some who hoped to wipe away controversial pasts by embracing a man famed for personal honesty.

With the other major parties discredited by their recent turns in power and a seemingly endless string of corruption scandals, Morena surged to a 30% winning margin behind Lpez Obrador, who vowed to launch a transformation toward cleaner, more honest politics, closer to the people.

But with Lpez Obrador focused on governing, the party has floundered.

Morena is everything, and nothing at the same time, said Hugo Concha, a political science professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. One day you hear crazy proposals, and the next day they change their opinion, Concha said. It is very hard to send a signal to the people, Here are different ideas.”

Since Lpez Obrador took office in late 2018, the party has twice tried and failed to choose a new leader on its own, leading it to turn to the National Electoral Institute to run a poll whose result was inconclusive.

We are caught up in an absurd dispute,” said retired pharmaceutical industry executive Aurora Pedroche, 64, who joined the party at its start. Morena is severely broken, but we are going to close ranks around whoever wins.

The only good news for Morena is that the two main opposition parties the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and the conservative National Action Party, are arguably in worse shape.

The PRI ruled Mexico uninterrupted from from 1928 to 2000, and still has the most governorships, 11. But its brief return to the presidency in 2012-2018 was so marked by debilitating corruption scandals that the PRI now seems cowed and rudderless.

Lpez Obrador has proved himself a master at the kind of politics charismatic leadership, ardent nationalism and governmental handout programs the PRI once specialized in.

National Action, a conservative party that offers the clearest alternative to Lpez Obrador, is still distrusted by many due to two lackluster periods in the presidency from 2000 to 2012. Some party factions have been drawn into counterproductive demonstrations of rage against the president.

The two candidates for Morena’s presidency are Porifirio Muoz Ledo, a former leader of the PRI who has been critical at times of Lpez Obrador, and congressional leader Mario Delgado, seen as more obedient to the president.

Muoz Ledo claims he won last weeks poll, though the national electoral institute says it was actually a statistical tie and it plans another poll to settle the issue.

Muoz Ledo has jumped from one party to another throughout a career that began as a student leader in the mid-1950s and established him in Mexican history as the first opposition party leader of Congress in 1997. He has been willing to criticize Lpez Obradors heavy-handed approach to catching and deporting Central American migrants who try to cross Mexico to reach the United States.

As Concha puts it, Muoz Ledo offers a relationship of mutual respect, but not unconditional subservience, while Delgado appears more a stalking horse for the partys centrist foreign relations secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, one of the presidents longtime allies.

A leader cannot listen only to the voice of servile (followers), but rather of those who are critical, Muoz Ledo said in an interview with The Associated Press. He said he wanted the administration to evolve from a caudillo presidency,” one based on a charismatic chieftain, “to a parliamentary presidency.

But it is not clear that Morena ever can become more than a shadow of Lpez Obrador.

In Morena, the charismatic leader is in charge, whoever the bureaucrat is who happens to hold the party presidency, said Flavia Friedenberg, a professor at the National Autonomous University. A party only becomes an institution when it outlives its leader.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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