08 August 2006
Will Mexico have an interim president?
Carrying on from yesterday's posting about the contested Mexican presidential elections, the radio and TV are today full of debate about the possible installation of an interim president, come the 1st December. The president would then call fresh elections, and the whole cycle would repeat itself. Given that Felipe Calderon seems to have emerged the victor by roughly 250,000 votes, one is inclined to wonder what is going on?
The first thing that the reader needs to remember is that this is Mexico and the media would not be discussing the notion of an interim president were the idea not being discussed seriously at elite level. Mexican hacks know where their bread is buttered and someone must have given the word, otherwise the idea would not have been aired publicly.
This begs the question, why are the elite planning to deny Calderon the fruits of his victory? The answer must be that they are afraid of the urban mass of the population, most of whom live in Mexico City and the poor southern states. It is far better to annoy a group of dodgy northern businessmen who may rage at losing their president, but who are not in a position to mount a major challenge where it matters: on the streets. Those business interests can cause damage to the economy by refusing to pay their taxes - something that they are already threatening to do - but they cannot turn the capital's streets into a war zone, so the thinking goes.
The key to understanding this is to remember that, as with all Third World countries, the local elite live in the capital city. That city has to be held until the end no matter what the cost. That way if things really do go pear shaped, the elite have time to get themselves, their families and their ill-gotten loot out of the country. The problem that the Mexican elite has is that Mexico City is not only the capital, it is the Democratic Revolutionary Party's (PRD) base. In other words, stealing the election from Calderon makes sense because it will keep the slums quiet.
The problem is that it relies on the northern states accepting the deal and keeping quiet. The deal could be that Calderon would win - by hook or crook - the next election and the results would be presented in such a way as to ensure that the PRD is seen to be clearly defeated.
Will the right accept this, or do they have some tricks of their own? Only time will tell.