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Cablegate: Pan National Assembly Spells Good News for Calderon

VZCZCXRO5026
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #2903 1552304
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 042304Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7343
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MEXICO 002903

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR MX
SUBJECT: PAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SPELLS GOOD NEWS FOR CALDERON

REF: MEXICO 2490

1. Summary: During the June 2-3 national assembly of the
ruling National Action Party (PAN), delegates chose new
National Council members, who will be responsible for
electing the party's next president in March 2008. An
estimated 60-70% of the Council members are reported to favor
President Calderon's camp over the right-wing faction led by
party president Manuel Espino, seriously weakening Espino's
chances for reelection. End summary.

2. Building on earlier state party elections in which
Calderon energetically supported loyalists and in which he
and Espino ended up nearly tied for support among the first
150 National Council members elected, the PAN national
assembly held in Leon, Guanajuato produced an additional 150
Council members with a definite preference for Calderon.
According to party estimates, at least 90 out of 150
newly-elected Council members voted in by 9,000 PAN delegates
are Calderon supporters. The President's private secretary,
Cesar Nava, won the first position of the National Council,
making him a strong contender for the next party president.
A number of other Calderon supporters joined the Council,
including First Lady Margarita Zavala, Calderon's Chief of
Staff Juan Camilo Mourino, his deputy Carlos Flores,
Secretary of Government Francisco Ramirez, and Secretary of

SIPDIS
Social Development Beatriz Zavala.

3. A number of leading Espino supporters were voted out of
the Council, including Secretary General of the PAN Jose
Espina, PAN Director for the State of Mexico Francisco
Garate, ex-gubernatorial candidate for the State of Mexico
Ruben Mendoza Ayala, and former Secretary of Communication
and Transportation (SCT) Pedro Cerisola. Carlos Abascal, the
former Secretary of Government, was re-elected to the Council
and is considered a party presidential candidate from the
PAN's right wing faction.

4. Espino himself was booed throughout his 15-minute speech
during the opening day, with hecklers calling him a
"traitor," "hypocrite," and "liar." The heckling appears to
have been the result of growing party frustration with
Espino, rather than with anything specific that he said. The
booing intensified when Espino commented that he and his
supporters were "the enemies of no one." By contrast, both
President Calderon--who called for new party leadership--and
former President Fox--who offered strong support for the
Calderon administration--were loudly applauded.

5. Comment: The PAN national assembly marked a turning point
in the longstanding rivalry between Calderon and Espino, in
which the majority of PAN delegates placed the future of
party leadership with more moderate, progressive elements.
This significantly increases the chances that a Calderon
supporter will become party president in March 2008,
strengthening the President's ability to govern with a united
party backing him. The latest national polls indicate that
President Calderon enjoys a 65% approval rating among the
Mexican population.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
BASSETT

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