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Monday, July 03, 2006


MEXICO CITY - Mexico's election results confirm a growing trend: tied elections. Not only does it bring back memories of the USA in 2000, but of the November 2005 presidential election in Honduras, the February, 2006, election in Costa Rica, and the April presidential election in Peru (not to mention the March mayoral election in San Salvador, El Salvador, which was won by 44 votes.) Why is this happening? I welcome your comments for a future column.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems Latin America has to give deep thought to the European system of Parlamentary Democracies.
As you mentioned it in your column"Whoever wins in Mexico will be stymied", the Presidential system, creates all sort of problems for the winner. Beginning with the fact that he cannot get aproval in the Congress of the reforms needed to advance the country in the development it needs. The example of India points up also how this country is organized by a Parlamentary system, a valuable inheritance from the British Empire.
My recomendation is that you dedicate several of your columns to analize the Parlamentary System and how may improve the political system in all Latin-america.

11:05 PM  
Blogger paco said...

It would be very interesting that you analyzed what kind of things would had to be implemented with a parlamentary system in Mexico, because the thruth is that today the political class is terrible and the introduction of a parlament without strict control in the political class and certain measures would be a disaster. The parlament has to be introduced with a lot of control. Its critical to analyze how mature Mexico`s political class is. You would have to analyze the origins and purposes of today`s Mexico political system. Lets not forget that the system was made by the PRI with the purpose to renew power forever, that`s the reason for so many political parties (divide y venceras). Also, lets not forget that the Congress in Mexico is something new, the thruth is that the congress has worked only 6 years in Mexico`s history. When the PRI ruled there was no congress, whatever the president said had no oposition, it was a politic of "if you move, you won`t be in the picture"(si te mueves no sales en la foto). I want to be positive and I hope that PAN is learning how to get the votes in the Congress to pass important reforms.
PD-I think that Mexico would never reach the levels of a Super economy for a medular reason that goes beyond economics: Ideology and religion. The truth is that sociologicaly we the latinos dont have a strong work ethic. I would love that you would go deep on this because its very important. Its said that the American "lives to work", the european "works to live", and that we, the latinos, "live to live", honestly here in Mexico, if people have some extra money they use it as fast as posible to party.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Precisely the parlamentary system works with a Party acting as Government and the party that lost the elections working as the opposition. In this way the opposition checks the wrongdoings of the party in government. All politicians ,(even in the U.S),because of human nature, try to be corrupt. With the Parlamentary system that could be better controlled.
Also the parlamentary system tries to align only two coalitions:The coalition that can form the Government and the Opposition coalition.(I wonder if the PRI would align with Calderon or with Lopez Obrador)
I suggest to read books in the Parlamentary system as the one titled "El sistema Parlamentario,el mejor gobierno para Colombia"that can be obtained in the bookstore"Libros y Revistas"
Also you may invite the Professor Arturo Valenzuela to one of your TV Programs.

9:37 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

I don't know if you can call it a full blown trend. But two factors may be at work in this regard.

First is the resurgent left, which was for a while, dead in the water. In the 80s and 90s center-right candidates easilt trounced those of the hard left because of the way the winds were blowing. Communism was falling, tbe end of history was declared and you couldn't get loans to bail out your country if you didn't adopt neo-liberal "reforms." Obviously the winds have shifted back, against these trends, creating a more level playing field.

But I think the real answer for these razor-sharp electoral contests has to do with the Americanization of politics around the world. That is the reliance on high-paid political consultants who 'craft messages' based on polls and focus groups. See "Our Brand is Crisis" - the excellent and revealing movie on Bolivia's previous election. When both sides are endlessly moving their positions towards the center, the result is a perfectly divided electorate. It is almost an inevitable result.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the “tied elections” phenomenon can not be explained only by ideological arguments. Tied elections are not a Latino, or maybe I should say American (all the Americas), syndrome. The last elections in Germany and Italy, both parliamentary democracies, are a clear example of the pandemic nature of this strange and certainly exciting political trend.

I agree though with Andres that the subject certainly merits a column and therefore let me venture a humble hypothesis.

Traditionally we have measured political tendencies by the geographic location of the population; urban or rural. This method was deemed accurate because socio-economic indexes seem to follow the same pattern as population distribution.

In the last 50 years though the urban population of Latin America has skyrocket and today urbanites account for 77% of the population. In 1950, the urban population was only 42%.

I believe this to be a significant change since the first major difference between a urban and rural society is the access to information. People in Latin America are today much more aware of their existence as a society and certainly much more aware of the world itself.

There are still some major differences in the urban population though. The migration to cities throughout Latin America shows that the population is basically split down the middle between people living in major and small cities and of course, the major difference between large and small cities is the access to jobs.

While the lack of formal jobs is a common characteristic of both large and small cities in Latin America, informal jobs in major cities seem to have filled the void and made these informal workers/entrepreneurs more conservative.

A t-shirt and/or candy salesman standing in the corner of a major avenue in a big city seems to hold political stability in high regard because it will allow him to continue with his trade and with the dream of expanding his business to another corner. Though by any standard this seems like very little to hold on to, it is a lot if it is all you’ve got and hence critical to your survival.

Small cities in turn do not offer even these modest economic opportunities and therefore resentment for the lack of jobs runs high. If you have absolutely nothing to loose then stirring things up seems like the logical path to follow. It can’t be worse than having nothing and, who knows, you might end up a little ahead.

Jobs, jobs and more jobs seem to be the key to tied elections.

This may explain as well the tied elections both in Germany, after incorporating East Germany, and Italy, were differences between the North and the South resemble those between large and small cities in Latin America.

It may even explain the tied elections in the US. As opposed to Latin America, quality of life and cost of living in small US cities is far better than in big cities and unemployment runs pretty low in “Smallville”. On the other side, jobs and the economy seem to be the major concern of the popilation in our big cities. This could explain why “Smallville” has become more conservative and the Eastern and Western seaboards openly liberal.

6:28 PM  
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5:12 PM  

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