Thursday, June 11, 2009

Elections in Yucatan!

Hooray for democracy!

Yucatecos and Yucatecas have, once again, the wonderful opportunity to exercise their hallowed democratic rights and obligations, and elect a diputado!

What the heck is a diputado, you might ask? It is said that the diputado is some kind of legislative political creature, that is supposed to represent the interests of the people in the district that voted for him or her. However, voting always along party lines, the diputado is about as representative of the people as a panucho would be representative of Swiss culture.

This time around, we have a few candidates to choose from according to the distrito to be 'represented'. Today we will look at two: the PRI offers up Angelica and the PAN suggests former police chief Javier Medina.

A quick look at their websites (linked above) shows this casual observer that while the PAN continues its use of the traditional blue colors, the PRI has abandoned its green white and red colors to distance itself from its rather unpopular track record, while at the same time banking on that record and emphasizing it's experience. OK. If you say so.

The PAN Javier website home page features a serious Javier making a speech, with carefully furrowed brows and much animated finger pointing and waving, indicating his experience and seriousness, while the PRI/PV home page loads up a video of a crowd of happy singing red-tshirt clad jovenes singing, clapping and dancing around Angelica in a kind of rapturous, can't wait for the tortas and refrescos/I'm on TV!!/Michael Jackson We Are the World kind of way.

Oh and if you are wondering what this PV is about, it's the Partido Verde Ecologista de Mexico (Green Party) who have allied themselves with the PRI. This is the most hypocritical of all political parties; if they have done one thing to protect the ecology or a blade of grass, I would be enormously surprised. I suspect the 'green' part refers to their political acumen, as in lack thereof.

As for their novel ideas, of which practically all sound very populistas, Javier's sound a little more coherent, while Angelica stresses her 'sensitivity to the needs of the family' which begs the question "Whose family?" Yours? Mine? Hers, maybe? Neither of these candidates is saying "Yucatecos and Yucatecas, get off your butts and work" Probably not a real popular message.

Which brings me to the subject of how much the diputado makes in a year! According to El Semanario, in an article from 2008 (it's probably increased by now) a diputado earned 77,888 pesos a month, along with another 45,786 to attend legislative sessions and 28,772 pesos to cover other activities. This makes a tidy little sum of $152446 pesos. A month. There is, on top of that, a savings program equal to 12% of their regular salary, medical coverage (you can bet they are not standing in line at the local IMSS (Importa Madres Su Salud) and an aguinaldo or Christmas bonus, equivalent to 40 days of salary.

No wonder they are so excited to 'serve' selflessly the needs of the population. And no wonder we have to pay more taxes!

Have a look at the candidates, their proposals and make up your mind. Imagine who you would vote for if you could vote. If you can, but don't want to, you could try the Voto Blanco option, proposed by former elected officials now out of the running, who are now saying that the voting system is flawed and people should abstain from participating (in the system that elected them in the past) Sour grapes? Gee, ya think?

Have a great election season, enjoy the visual and audio pollution!

Viva la democracia!


mcm said...

Hey -- glad to hear someone talking about the elections.
But how come you're comparing Araujo (distrito 3) and Javier Medina (distrito 4)? Angelica is running against Carolina Cardenas, and Javier against Rolando Zapato.

And, what do you think of the "blank vote" idea? It is getting a LOT of attention nationally, but it's less clear that Yucatan voters are interested...

The political parties are horrified, and say that it's "antidemocratic"...Ana Rosa is a big proponent. PAN hates it (they know that it is most likely to hurt their candidates, since the PRI has a bigger hard vote).

Woops - I guess that's enough (more than)...not my blog!

mcm said...

Woops - I didn't read your post carefully enough before jumping in with my comment, and I see that you did bring up the voto blanco "option" --

It seems to me that it's quite different than abstaining, since the idea is to go and vote, just not for any of the party-selected options. Also, although the proposal is supported by some out-of-work politicians (e.g., Ana Rosa), it's being promoted by a lot of the intellectual/academic political commentators as well (at least that seems to be the case from reading the editorial page of the Diario). So, I do think it's more than "sour grapes"...though I'm not clear on whether it will in fact have much impact on how "they" (the political elite) run things. Witness the 2007 election reform law....

mcm said...

Now -- to your question: who would you vote for?

I'm actually very glad that I don't have the right to vote -- I would have a hard time deciding.
In some ways, I like both the PRI candidates (Araujo -- she seemed to be promoting a number of progressive, thoughtful initiatives while head of IVEY), and Zapato (he's very much a PRI militant, but reading his statements on questions to the candidates from the civic front (or whatever it's called, he seemed quite specific, and on top of issues, and perhaps even thoughtful and nuanced in a couple of cases.
Very recently, several of the IVEY initiatives seem to be less than well-planned -- for example, land given to squatter families but no followup with basic services (water, drainage, roads, light, police patrols), and some of the housing initiatives (there were a lot of them) also have had problems.
Both Araujo and Zapato, though quite personable and sincere-appearing, also are clearly wedded to whatever the PRI (and specifically, Yvonne Ortega's group) wants..and I'm very very leery of the really blatant populist pandering and vote-buying (the parties/meetings sponsored by the Youth Network stuff, for example).
Also, there's some talk (and it seems plausible to me) that Rolando Zapato, if he wins, will resign to run for Municipal President of Merida next year. The PRI REALLY want Merida! That means that his suplente, son of PRI politico Federico Granja (I think that's his name), would step in.
So, that leaves me with Carolina Cardenas and Javier Medina. Both did OK jobs in the previous sexenio (Caroline maybe wasn't that outstanding as tourism secretary, but ok, and I thought Javier was a good police chief -- not a cushy job at all). Both seem to have a grasp of issues, and a serious take on them, and neither are "professional politicians" -- so there would be at least some chance that they might vote with your consciences rather than the party line.
ON THE OTHER HAND -- both are very socially conservative (e.g., traditional PAN/Catholic take on abortion, role of religion in public policy, etc.), and I'm not real comfortable with that.
Then there are the PSD candidates....

Well, you asked.

What do YOU think? I don't hang out with folks who are knowledgable about these things, and I'm far from completely fluent in Spanish language or Yucateco history/ maybe I am totally misunderstanding the issues?

William Lawson said...

hey MCM - so many comments, so little time!

I was looking at Javier and Angelica because they popped up. Not comparing them really. I will have to look at 'BabyFace' Bello and Cardenas on another occasion, should the mood strike me, which it probably will not.

What do I think?

I think they are all refried politicians with the same tired ideas and personal ambitions that don't go much beyond self advancement and enrichment.

The Voto Blanco idea seems dumb to me.

As for your understanding of the issues, you sound more lucid than a lot of folks and definitely more in touch than most foreigners I know, including me!