The recent and thankfully past presidential campaign in Mexico was a bizarre spectacle of major rifts in each of the 4 major parties. So important they were, it is not far-fetched to imagine that had a party managed to avoid them it would have been an easy victor. The ruling party, the PAN, was torn at the beginning between the incumbent’s pre-candidate, Santiago Creel, and the party’s one, Felipe Calderon; the PRD between the Cardenas family and Lopez Obrador; the PRI between Madrazo and Elba Esther Gordillo.
And that was all childish bickering compared to the hard, unprecedentedly dirty fights between parties. The race had simply never been this close.
It all made for grisly headlines, nauseating TV spots, debilitating internecine wars, and tiring discussion in every reunion you care to name. But now that’s past I can’t help but think of it as progress. You may call me naive or unsophisticated but I’ve oft thought, in what I do not believe to be my least lucid times1, that if there is such a thing as progress in politics it is nothing but the fragmentation of power2.
Yes, fragmentation can be ugly, and noisy, and wasteful, (particularly at its early stages) but we only know one answer to the ancient Latin question of “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (Who shall guard the guards themselves?") and it is “each to one another” (Can someone please translate this to Latin?). No matter what convoluted system, ideology, rules, mechanisms, or technologies of any sort we throw into the mix, it always comes down to the people that implement them, “it’s always a people problem.” In fact, the most that can be said in defense of a system is that it fragments the power to do wrong between many people.
Take the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) If it deserves any credibility (and I think it does) it is not because our voting technology ranks among the most sophisticated and expensive in the world (it does) but because there are deputies of every party3 physically overseeing every step of the electoral process.
3 That 50,000 already-registered-to-attend deputies of Lopez Obrador failed to show does take credibility from the election, but, frankly, it takes more from Lopez Obrador himself.