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Monday, Sept. 19, 2011

Columnist laments impasse over naming IFE counselors,
says it could imperil next year's elections

Columnist Leo Zuckermann says next year's presidential election is at risk because of a longstanding impasse over naming the final three counselors of the Federal Electoral Institute. He says the Institutional Revolutionary Party, whose coalition holds a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, wants to name two of the three new counselors, which would bring the total up to nine. President Felipe Calderón's National Action Party and the Democratic Revolution Party have said no dice, and the vote needs a two-thirds majority, which no single party or coalition has. Zuckermann said important IFE votes have resulted in 3-3 ties with no action taken. He said that has satisfied the PRI's Green Ecologist Party ally, which could have been fined 289 million pesos ($22 million) for 2009 TV campaign irregularities had there been nine counselors.

Josefina Vázquez Mota refused to allow the PRI to get the upper hand during her term as the PAN leader in the Chamber of Deputies. She left that post to run for the PAN nomination for president earlier this month.

In 2003, the PRI named four counselors, including the president, the PAN three and the PRD two. This imbalance helped fuel the PRD's attack on the 2006 election results. Now, each main party has named two of the counselors. The PRI says it would be unfair for it to be outnumbered 6-3 at the IFE. Last fall, José Carreño Carlón wrote that PAN President Vicente Fox engineered the IFE outcome that helped cause the 2006 election crisis and that Calderón might be sowing the seeds of another crisis in this IFE showdown.

Update, Sept. 20: Zuckermann writes a follow-up column.