Felipe Calderón’s return to Mexican politics will have to wait. The Electoral Court has rejected early this Thursday the challenge of the former president and his wife, the former presidential candidate Margarita Zavala, to obtain the registration of México Libre, the political party they wanted to form after their departure from the conservative National Action (PAN) . The magistrates’ ruling confirms the thesis of the electoral authority on September 4, which ensures that the group did not prove the origin of some contributions made by supporters during the campaign in which they sought to become a new party. The seven judges have also decided by majority to give the registration to the Solidarity Encounter Party (PES), an ultra-conservative formation that disappeared despite allying with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Progressive Social Networks and Social Force for Mexico, aligned with the Government.
“The infraction implied the violation of the constitutional principles of transparency, accountability, certainty and neatness, which have a decisive impact on the granting of the registry,” said Judge José Luis Vargas in the project on Mexico Libre that was discussed in the full, what started circulating on Tuesday afternoon and that has been supported in a very close vote by four magistrates. “It is an issue that has generated a lot of controversy and media interest,” Vargas has acknowledged in an extensive presentation. The court’s ruling is final. “All those who are related to the Government were given the registration; the only opposition voice, Mexico Libre, was denied with absurd criteria. We will continue in the fight ”, claimed Zavala.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in his morning press conference this Thursday that he was not going to comment on the decision, since it corresponded to the National Electoral Institute (INE) and the Electoral Tribunal. “What I want to make clear is that we stayed on the sidelines. Before, the presidents decided who they registered and who they nominated and who they did not. That already happened to the dustbin of history. It no longer applies ”, stated the president.
The plenary session has decided, in a session full of surprises, to endorse Fuerza Social por México, of the union leader and alternate senator of Morena (the ruling party), Pedro Haces Barba, considering that the INE’s rejection of a massive union affiliation does not it had been fully justified. The magistrates have also granted the registration to Progressive Social Networks, linked to the son-in-law of Elba Esther Gordillo, former leader of the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE), but they have rejected Grupo Social Promotor de México, also linked to Gordillo and the SNTE.
Regarding the PES, the project that was discussed saw as a serious fault that 15 religious ministers presided or assisted in the assemblies to constitute the party, but it has not obtained majority support. “Not for the simple fact of the participation of a minister or member of a religious cult does this translate into an irregularity”, has argued Vargas. The Constitution prohibits the political participation of ministers of worship, but the controversial decision to give registration to the satellite party of the ruling bloc, which will no longer be able to go in alliance in next year’s voting, was endorsed. “We must move away from philias and phobias, but not from the Constitution,” lamented Judge Janine Otálora, author of the proposal.
The possible partisan return of Calderón, who governed between 2006 and 2012, had caused much expectation in recent weeks due to its implications for the political board with a view to next year’s votes, in which more than 2,000 public offices are elected. Their sights were set on the PAN – the largest opposition party and where Calderón and Zavala served for almost three decades – and on López Obrador, their political antagonist and main winner with the emergence of the new parties. “PAN leaders are the happiest with this ruling by preventing the desertion of militants and candidates,” says Rodián Rangel, professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
“In politics, sometimes there are unusual travel companions, and in this case López Obrador and the PAN are,” says Agustín Basave, former leader of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Calderón has been on López Obrador’s target time and again, mocking the failure of Mexico Libre; To obtain revenue from the drug trafficking trial of Genaro García Luna, the anti-drug czar of the former PAN president, and to have the endorsement of the Supreme Court to promote a consultation to judge the former presidents.
There are, however, divergent readings on the benefits of President López Obrador after the ruling. Rangel maintains that the collapse of his main antagonist serves the current president to catapult his political project, which starts as a favorite towards the June 2021 elections. “He needs an antagonistic figure to compete and to exemplify why his policy is the correct one ”, He adds. Basave, on the other hand, affirms that López Obrador “wins the viscera” and that in a rational calculation it would be better for him if Mexico Libre existed to fragment the vote of the right. Calderón and Zavala accuse without evidence that there was a “black hand” from the Executive with the intention of denying them registration.
“I do not defend Calderón nor do I agree with him ideologically,” says Basave, “but it is clear that the president does not want his nemesis to have a political party.” “It is very clear that the things that López Obrador does not want the Judicial Power to approve are not approved (…) Today the Judicial Power is independent of the Executive? No, and it never has been ”, argues the professor at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM).
After the door slammed to México Libre, the fundamental question is who will take over the leadership of the opposition, which has its worst results in decades and lacks leadership, a void that Calderón wanted to fill, who ended his term as the worst president evaluated in almost 20 years, according to Consult Mitofsky. Only Enrique Peña Nieto later had a lower rating.
Calderón was a leader of the PAN from 1996 to 1999, but left the party in the 2018 presidential elections, after facing a new generation of members led by Ricardo Anaya, who blocked his wife’s aspirations to run for the presidency. Zavala, the formal face of México Libre, ran as an independent candidate, but dropped out two months before the elections. After almost two years out of the spotlight, Anaya announced three weeks ago his return to politics.
Senator and former PAN leader Gustavo Madero invited the former presidential partner to return to the party days after the INE rejected the registration of Mexico Libre. “I put the red mat for them and sweep it so they can enter through the front door,” Madero said. That is one option. Another is that Zavala, with fewer enemies and more political credit than her husband, will again contend with an independent candidacy or that another of the opposition parties open the door for her. Calderón’s political future looks more uncertain, especially as García Luna’s trial in New York progresses. “He will continue writing and tweeting, with the weight of the voice of a former president, but a more formal project by Felipe could be considered closed,” predicts Basave. “Calderón was playing one of his last cards in court,” agrees Rangel, although he clarifies that his weight among right-wing voters cannot be ruled out.
The ruling of the seven magistrates came at a time when the Electoral Tribunal has gained political relevance, with rulings on the contest for the leadership of Morena and the veto of López Obrador’s morning conferences in Coahuila and Hidalgo, which have elections this Sunday. local, considering them propaganda. At a time of uncovering of candidacies in the Cabinet and Congress, internal fights within the majority group, referendums on the past and present, and the shipwreck of Mexico Libre, the country is just beginning a long electoral road for the mid-term from 2021.