The PAN: At Any Price
Instead of a victory at all costs, the PAN leadership’s motto seems to be the defeat at any price. The story is certainly not over. I do not know where a solution could come from, nor who would be able to implement it, but I do know who not to expect it from: either of the two leaders running today: Anaya and Zavala. The fight became personal and although both claim not to be obsessed with power, both are. Their words have the same credibility as those of Lopez Obrador who has been saying the same thing for years: “There is something that bothers me a lot… that is for people to think that I am obsessed with power and that all I care about is becoming President of Mexico… No! I do not fight for that, I fight for ideals, for principles.”
Words and not facts is what I see in the statements of Ricardo Anaya and Margarita Zavala. I see no difference in their ideals and principles. Nor in their desires except in one: who should be the next presidential candidate.
It is true, as Margarita says, that Anaya prevented her from reaching any position within the structure and commissions of the party as well as a candidacy [for the Chamber of Deputies], either under the principle of relative majority or proportional representation, or that she was never taken into account in the discussions on the Front and that the PAN leader systematically refused direct dialogue. It is useless to deny that Anaya took control of the party and that he marginalized the so-called “calderonistas” instead of entering into a dialogue with them.
But equally true is that Margarita said long ago: “I will be a candidate with or without PAN.” For more details, in an interview for Radio Formula in March 2016 she stated “(…) I believe that one establishes missions in life and that is what I have to do, work with the citizens once I decided to be at the country’s disposal and I’m working on that and it’s what I have to do, I’m not looking for just another job and I’m convinced that life has prepared me for this moment, I’m getting ready, I’m listening and I want to go hand in hand with the citizens.” Crystal clear. Thus, of obsessions with power, neither of them can speak.
Anaya can give himself many medals as National President of PAN first as “provisional” when, in September 2014, Madero requested license to become a congressman, and later, when in 2015, he contended for the presidency of his party winning against Javier Corral with over 80 percent of the votes.
His expertise and astuteness at conquering the PAN’s structure, to build electoral alliances and win a good part of the governorships in 2015 and 2016, cannot be denied. Neither can he be denied the imaginative and powerful idea of creating and operating the creation of a Front to fight against PRI and Morena in 2018. But he did not show the same expertise nor the same astuteness to do it without causing a split within his party, which promises to be harmful for the opportunity for that Front to arrive to good port.
As leader of the party, he failed in one of his primary tasks: to keep the team together. He did not use his institutional power adequately to conciliate, include dialogue, and negotiate with his internal adversaries knowing that there was a deep scission in the works. When he wanted to or said he wanted to, it was too late. The call for unity was out of time. It would not have been serious if Margarita was just another member, but she is not.
Zavala does not deserve decoration either. She knows that without the PAN (or without the Front) her chances of becoming president are limited, but she also knows that she can undermine the PAN and the Front with her chances towards 2018. Her supporters within the party, especially the most notable in the Senate, do not help either. Instead of building bridges, they used the wood for the fire. The so-called #PANRebels (#RebeldesdelPAN) say that they will remain inside the party but their objective is not to achieve reunification but to deepen it.
Neither Anaya nor Zavala thought of PAN members, nor of their supporters or potential voters. Neither of them thought about what they say they want: to throw the PRI from los Pinos and prevent Lopez Obrador from reaching the presidency. The fight was between two people obsessed, even if that obsession led them to defeat. Both preferred to damage the PAN and the Front. Paradoxically, they had too much obsession for the candidacy and lacked the obsession that defines politicians: the desire for power. Splitters, both of them.
This divisions reduces the possibilities of a political option that was sold as different and that was arousing the interest of the voters: a coalition government never experienced and that could come to power. However, the last Buendia & Laredo poll this weekend (October 7-8) after Maragarita’s resignation shows that the Front is still competitive with a 24 percent electoral preference against 25 percent of the Morena-PT alliance.
Note: It is inadmissible not only that AMLO but many media and commentators speak not of Margarita Zavala but of the wife of former President Calderon. Margarita Zavala is Margarita Zavala. A politician distinguishable by her own trajectory and merits.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author. This article was originally published on the Mexico Institute's 2018 Elections Guide.
About the Author
The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute. Read more