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Cablegate: Parties Accentuate the Negative After Mixed State

VZCZCXRO6407
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #4265/01 2212116
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 092116Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8374
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 004265

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/MEX, INR, INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON MX
SUBJECT: PARTIES ACCENTUATE THE NEGATIVE AFTER MIXED STATE
ELECTIONS RESULTS

THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE HANDLE
ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: Recriminations are raining this week
across Mexico's political landscape in the wake of August 5
state and local elections in Baja California, Aguascalientes
and Oaxaca. All three parties are smarting in one locale or
another. In Baja California, PRI's Jorge Hank Rhon broke an
awkward silence to say he was "licking his wounds" and blame
low voter turnout for his defeat. PRI seems to be edging
toward contesting the elections results this week. In
Oaxaca, PRD leaders, in typical fashion, disagreed over the
reasons for their party's poor showing. In the state of
Aguascalientes, PAN Governor Reynoso stands accused of aiding
and abetting opposition candidates. End summary.

--------------
Beaten in Baja
--------------

2. (SBU) Twenty four hours after Baja California elections
authorities projected PAN's Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millan the
clear winner of Sunday's gubernatorial races, former Tijuana
Mayor Hank Rhon finally admitted defeat and joked about his
much-noticed absence from the from the public eye for two
days. Hank said he'd been licking his wounds and preferred
that his party leadership take the heat for his loss. He
also lamented the slow vote count and told a TV audience that
"absenteeism won the day" in Sunday's elections. He noted
only 800,000 out of 2 million eligible voters participated in
polling. (At 41%. voter turnout on Sunday was actually
somewhat higher than the previous two state/local elections.)

3. (SBU) Hank said he would leave it up to PRI leaders as
to whether to challenge Sunday's results. Party president
Beatriz Paredes indicated her party was studying a possible
challenge in specific districts, but was vague about whether
it would contest the gubernatorial results. State PRI
officials have already called for a nullification of the
gubernatorial results.

4. (SBU) Media noted that Paredes and other senior PRI
partisans had given only lukewarm support to the flamboyant
and controversial candidate and that national teachers union
leader (SNTE) Ester Elba Gordillo (ousted from the PRI last
year) had filled the void and turned around a lackluster
campaign by Hank's PAN challenger. Commentators speculated
that Gordillo's presence generated enough votes among Baja
teachers to tip the close race in Osuna Millan's favor -
which the latter denied in a press conference on August 8.

5. (SBU) PAN also recovered the municipalities of Tijuana
and Mexicali, which the PRI had governed since the 2004
elections. Osuna Millan will have a PAN majority in the
state congress. 14 of the 16 generally elected seats were
won by PAN. (Another nine seats will be based on
proportional representation.)

----------------
Who Lost Oaxaca?
----------------

6. (SBU) PRD leaders likewise claimed low turnout
undermined their candidates in the state of Oaxaca. Fewer
than 23 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. While the
party's Senate leader Carlos Navarette acknowledged that his
party had erred in tying itself too closely with APPO, which
spear-headed last year's disruptive protests in Oaxaca City,
PRD president Leonel Cota complained that Mexico's "bankrupt"
electoral system was to blame for the party's poor showing.
Cota averred that Mexico was "headed down a dead end street,"
as evidenced by low turnouts in every state and local
elections held this year. For his part, Navarette indirectly
chided failed presidential candidate Lopez Obrador's strategy
of co-campaigning with APPO supporters. He said that the PRD
had failed to recognize the extent to which Oaxacan voters
were fed up with the prolonged crisis and acknowledged that
his party had in fact strengthened Governor Ulises Ruiz's
hand.

7. (SBU) While many also attribute PRI's victory to the
governor's heavy use of party machinery (which is far more
developed in Oaxaca than that of the other parties) to turn
out the vote, some independent observers noted that many
races boiled down to contests between former PRI colleagues.
PRD's Oaxacan slate was said to have been drawn heavily from
erstwhile PRI partisans recently coaxed into running as
opposition candidates. Others noted, however, that the
Oaxaca results marked another personal defeat for Lopez

MEXICO 00004265 002 OF 002


Obrador, who had campaigned extensively in the state on
behalf of his party. At the least, Sunday's results
undermined AMLO's base in the state: three of his closest
confidants lost their legislative seats.

-------------------------------
PAN Mulls Aguascalientes Defeat
-------------------------------

8. (SBU) Finally, PAN's unexpected loss in elections in the
state of Aguascalientes touched off feuding between the
state's governor and party leaders who accused him of being
less than "blanciazul," amid charges he'd helped non-PAN
candidates. A 1995 PRI, convert, Governor Luis Armando
Reynoso's party credentials had been suspect since his
election in 2004, and there was already talk of expelling
him. PAN's loss of seven out of 11 municipalities in the
State (including the state capital) as well as 11 of its 18
state legislative seats has accentuated the acrimony. The
party's state directorate was meeting this week to discuss
allegations that Reynoso used his office's resources to
support Convergencia candidates.

9. (SBU) Meanwhile, PAN president Manuel Espino used his
party's poor showing to take an indirect swipe at President
Calderon's Los Pinos team, saying that arbitrary selection of
PAN state candidates by "less than democratic means" was to
blame for the party's loss in recent elections. Espino urged
party reforms to open up the selection process. He offered
few specifics to back up his complaint, but his remarks
recalled the bitter flap in May after Yucatan's elections
when he charged that Calderon operatives, headed by Chief of
Staff Juan Mourino, had inappropriately meddled in the state
to PAN's ultimate disadvantage.

10. (SBU) Comment: All three parties are guilty of poorly
coordinated efforts to support their candidates in the three
elections. Other than that, the results provide little in
the way of a national bell-weather. Moreover, with partisans
in each party pointing fingers at their co-religionists, it
is unlikely that fallout from last Sunday will impact
inter-party relationships or complicate discussions of such
national issues as fiscal or state reform. End comment.


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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