The political crisis derived from the Ayotzinapa case, has left the Party for the Democratic Revolution (PRD) as one of its most stricken stakeholders. The resignation of Governor Ángel Aguirre, a former PRI member, and the accusations regarding the disappearance of the 43 students that point towards the former Mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca, (a PRD member), led to a series of charges and countercharges that sought to ascribe blame and responsibility within the leftwing party. In this new chaos at the party’s chore, its moral leader, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, wrote a letter in which he demanded the resignation of the newly elected party national chairman, Carlos Navarrete. The motives Cárdenas argues are that PRD no longer has social credibility and it has lost its moral authority as a political alternative, something that could only be reversed by a complete renovation. While the arguments make sense in the current environment, the situation presents an opportunity to rekindle the struggle between factions within the party and try to make a good use of it in order to end the hegemony of the New Left (“Los Chuchos”) in PRD. Therefore, what’s in store for the party with this internal conflict?
The Ayotzinapa case showed a severe example of collusion between organized crime and political authorities, but also had a serious impact on PRD’s reputation. As it happened with PAN and its existential contradictions while in the federal government, PRD has met with the harsh reality of not sustaining the coherence between the ideals of a doctrine based in defending honesty, tackling corruption and being politically tolerant with the duty of exercising authority. If we add to the mix the damage to the party’s image after joining the Pact for Mexico within the context of a governance agreement that characterized the Peña administration in its first year and a half in office, PRD faces a difficult situation with the forthcoming local and federal elections to be held in June 2015.
The core values of PRD are at stake. While the pragmatism of its leadership during the current administration has yielded the party with political (participation in the reform process) and economic benefits (increasing its negotiating skills for allocating resources towards political parties), the imminence of the next elections as well as the need to differentiate itself from both the federal government and other political factions have all complicated the existence of a party with bleak expectations of success compared to a PRI that holds the federal executive branch. PRD, as other parties – including PRI – has nothing new to offer, but plenty to hide.
As an initial response to this problem, Carlos Navarrete presented an initiative to strengthen the culture of legality and ethics within the party, especially that which concerns the behavior of its legislators and public officers, but also with the appointment of candidates for future elections. However, the strategy of cleansing the image of PRD does not have a clear background and lacks a plan to consolidate unity among the factions of the party. To make matters worse, PRD no longer has a figure of cohesion, as were the cases of Andrés Manuel López Obrador or Cárdenas himself. When taking into account the disruptive factor embodied in the arrival of MORENA towards the stage of political parties that possess a budget and actual capabilities to compete in elections, PRD is not only in danger of losing its hegemonic role as the largest leftwing party but also decreases its chances of retaining the political positions that they hold as of now but that will be at stake in 2015.
Less than a year from facing its first electoral test since the return of PRI to power, PRD is on the threshold of a renewal process where the New Left leadership that has headed the party for the past years will likely come to an end. The “troubled waters” that soak the current crisis represent an opportunity for groups opposed to the so-called “Chuchos”. However, despite the probable demise of the aforementioned faction, not all is lost for PRD. It will all rely on the speed with which the party can get out of this schism. Regardless whether Navarrete remains as head of the party, PRD needs to define a competitive and realistic political program. It should be said that PRD is not the only political sector in trouble. PAN lives a similar environment of programmatic restructuring as well as a realignment of its internal power balance. PRI has begun to suffer the effects of the complex weariness of being in power, although it has the advantage of controlling the resources that comes with heading the Executive Power. The difference will rely in how soon PRD will be able to adapt to this environment.