Mexico’s Midterm Elections

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s ruling party lost in the midterm elections. Carlos Flores-Vizcarra, Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix, explains how this could affect the future of politics in Mexico.

José Cárdenas:
Good evening. I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." Mexican president Felipe Calderón's ruling party loses the midterm elections. What could this mean for the future of politics in Mexico and the United States? Also, a nutrition program providing education and helping women, infants and children across the country. Plus, from drunk driving to aggressive speeding, the latest on how Arizona is keeping you safe on the highway. That's all coming up next on "Horizonte." Good evening, everyone, and thank you for joining us. Mexican president Felipe Calderón's ruling party -- the national action party -- P.A.N. -- lost in this month's midterm congressional elections. The opposition -- the revolutionary institutional party -- or, P.R.I. -- scored victories in the lower legislative house as well as state and local posts. Joining me to talk about the results of the election is Phoenix consul general of Mexico, Carlos Flores-Vizcarra. Welcome to "Horizonte."

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
Thank you for having me again.

José Cárdenas:
It's good to have you again. Pretty significant elections. Let's talk about the major players. Give a little bit of background on the three main parties. The P.A.N., the P.R.I. and the P.R.D.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
The results were surprising. The P.R.I. in the legislature going out had only 106 seats and for the upcoming legislature, they will have alongside the green party, which they went in coalition with the green party for the past election, they will hold 265 seats.

José Cárdenas:
And we should remind our viewers that the P.R.I. was the party that held power in Mexico from the early part of the last century to the election of the President Fox.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
That's correct. And became the first president different than the P.R.I. Yes.

José Cárdenas:
And the P. R.I. seemed to be in decline, and yet the results in this election now they have the majority in the lower house, which is equivalent of our congressional delegation.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
Yes, in the way that proves the dogma, that stated that it was going out of the -- let's say, the acceptance of the Mexican public and the electors is not true. This proved that the parties that have the ability to recreate themselves and reconnect to the people can come back to power and this is what happened in Mexico in the past election. The P.R.I. went to campaign with young candidates. And they took over very important city that they have in the past times, like the capital, the capitals of different states.

José Cárdenas:
Which is President Fox's --

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
His state where he was first elected governor. But furthermore, they won states held by P.A.N., like the state that's next to Mexico City and another one that everyone thought was a sure win for the P.A.N.

José Cárdenas:
Is there anything in particular that explains the P.R.I.'s dominance?

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
I think it's the impact of the economic crisis. The downturn of the economy has led people to look for other people to voice their anguish and their wishes. And I think that the platform that was put up by the P.R.I. in a way made more commitment with those who are disenfranchised by the effects of the crisis.

José Cárdenas:
What about the war that's had a high toll of deaths and level the violence? Did that have a negative impact on P.A.N.?

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
I think it does, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will stop doing that. Because everybody in Mexico understands that that is a big issue that we have to confront. Now there might be some changes, some nuances that may be enacted as soon as the new legislature take office, but the war on drugs is something being done by the Mexican government, the Mexican state but also in cooperation with the U.S. government. The proof of that is that we have this so-called plan that provides technology to Mexico in order to fight and combat the criminals in Mexico.

José Cárdenas:
You don't see a change in the attitude in the war on drugs and cooperation with United States in that area?

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
I like the way President Calderón was brave enough to speak to the nation, the public in general. Hours after the trends were identified and he spoke about unity. And the chairwoman said this is an election that confronted party's ideas and, let's say, competencies, but now it's about the Mexican government, Mexican state and Mexican society and I think that it brought about a political engineering on the part of the corrective but in the end the battle should be fought for Mexico.

José Cárdenas:
In the years after they lost control of the presidency, they seemed to be more of an obstructionist party. Seeming to make sure that nothing was passed on President Fox's agenda and now promising cooperation with President Calderón.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
I agree. Party -- little groups that take control of the party and don't allow for participation in other elements. In this case, I think that the P.R.I. has a different attitude. But also P.A.N. has a different attitude, and still, I think the P.R.D., the left of center party, has also a very open attitude toward discussing the bigger issues of Mexico.

José Cárdenas:
Now, the P.R.D., some people think came close to winning the presidency in the last election. But there's a lot of chaos within the party right now.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
Those are the crises that parties live. Yes, the P.R.D., was just, you know, very slim margin from winning the presidency. But ever since they came -- P.A.N. came into office and they had to bear the brunt of being a party of opposition, a lot of confrontation went on within the P.R.D., to the point where presented candidates were opposed to the official candidates of P.R.D., when it becomes a personal issue and they get very emotional and get carried away by those emotions, the game is not well played.

José Cárdenas:
There was discussion pre-election of voter boycott.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
It did occur. The next winners of the election were the P.R.I., the green party, and this group of folks that were advocated for the annulment of the vote. That is, you're not to abstain, but go to the polling stations, but you would cast a vote that would be annulled. Saying you're not in agreement with any of the parties in a way that you dislike the political system as a whole. And that added up for almost 7% of the total votes casted.

José Cárdenas:
Do you see any dangerous trends there?

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
I do. Because I've been an international activities for a long time and I know very well how things evolved in Venezuela. And let's say the left of center party, the right of center party, and they ended up ruining the political system, abandoning it and in the end, ended up with an individual who tried to -- he went into exile and came back and went into power and difficult to get out.

José Cárdenas:
Hugo Chávez.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
Yes.

José Cárdenas:
The P.R.I. won five of the six governorships. What do you see there?

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
There's a new generation of Mexican politicians going for office. The case for the state of LEONE, which represents 15% of the economic output of Mexico was won by this young individual. By the name of MEDINA, a 35-year-old, he ran for the governorship and he won. Versus a very experienced politician.

José Cárdenas:
This is a role reversal for the P.R.I. because some of their losses back about the time of President Fox's election were attributed to the control of the party by the so-called dinosaurs.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
That's correct.

José Cárdenas:
And now you've got the younger element taking over.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
That's how big the change has been. It's been a generational change. Those who have been engaged in politics in Mexico, not only P.R.I., but also in P.A.N., are very young folks and that's something that I welcome and I wish it continues.

José Cárdenas:
Now, one of the states that the P.R.I. was expected to win is our neighboring state of Sonora, but lost. The P.A.N. won in a close election. What happened there?

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
You cannot prevent some events from affecting politics and I believe this terrible tragedy that happened where 48 young kids were burned and died created a havoc in Sonora. Everybody discussing and trying to put the blame on everybody. And in the end, they went to the polls and apparently made a shift according to the previous surveys and they elected the governor, the candidate of P.A.N., and not the candidate of P.R.I. So, yes, there was a big change. And, of course, Sonora is a very important state to Arizona because it's the most intense trading partner to Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
And the problem there was that some of the people involved running daycares had connections to the existing state government.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
I think the problem was approached and discussed in the beginning, trying to play the blaming game and say this is a problem of the social security institute of Mexico, which is a federal entity. A problem that is not our problem, by the outgoing governor, that creates an animosity among the folks. These are times in which -- days in which you should be more compassionate and respectful about the grief of these families. You cannot politicized a tragedy like this and try and take advantage.

José Cárdenas:
Well, we'll see what impact it has on relationships between Sonora and the United States. Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte."

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:
Thank you for having me.

Carlos Flores-Vizcarra:Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix;

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