On November 15, commenting on a poll that had PRD candidate LÃ³pez Obrador (“AMLO”) at 39%, the PRI’s dinosaur Madrazo at 29%, and newly nominated PAN candidate CalderÃ³n at 25%, I said:
The real race right now is for second place [...] If CalderÃ³n 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:
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.