Wednesday, July 12, 2006

KANU Beware

It has taken a while to come up with a clear winner in the recent Mexican elections, however, most analysts would agree that a clear looser in the process has been the former ruling party: The Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI.

The PRI had been the dominant party in Mexico from 1929 to 2000, wielding a powerful axe that cut across all levels of government in Mexico (Federal, State and Local). All presidents in those 70 years came from the PRI, as did most legislators, governors and mayors. However, the election of 2000 saw an alliance of the conservative National Alliance Party (PAN) and the Mexican Green Party (PVEM) overwhelmingly win the presidential elections, under the leadership of current president Vincente Fox. PRI was a distant third, though she maintained a majority in the federal legislature and most state governments.

However, the last few years have been unkind to the party, in the run up to the 2006 elections, the PRI was unable to reconcile her past with her aspirations for the future. The old guard continued to run the party ( young turks overwhelmingly rejected the party’s presidential nominee: Roberto Madrazzo), and she was wracked by constant wrangling and infighting. This led to massive defections and the creation of a new party: National Alliance Party (which won 4% of the seats in Congress). The party also failed to attract new supporters and relied on her old coalition (unions and the poor) to win back power. Most important, she failed to convince voters that she had reformed and was ready to lead the country.

As a result, the presidential candidate garnered a paltry 22% of the vote and she lost 50 seats in the lower house of congress, as well as, her grip on state and local governments.
It could be argued that KANU is in a similar state of disrepair. She has been unable to fully reconcile the differences between the "old guard" and "young turks", unable to reform her archaic and dysfunctional leadership structure, and has been hobbled by infighting and factionalism. Most crucial, is that she has yet to convince Kenyans that she has reformed and is ready to retake the reigns of power.

Whereas, the PRI can only lick her wounds and hope for a better future, KANU still has a year to get her act together and prove to Kenyans that she is reformed and ready to lead the country.


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