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PAN membership in freefall following election debacle

January 14, 2013

Having lost badly in the 2012 presidential election, Mexico’s National Action Party (PAN) admitted this week that membership has plummeted by 80 percent.

Of 1,868,567 party members across Mexico, just 368,253 renewed their membership during the inscription period from October 1 to December 14. In Jalisco, PAN membership fell by half from 34,801 to 17,887.

Governor Emilio Gonzalez sought to put a positive spin on the news that the Jalisco PAN retained a higher proportion of members than the national average.

“I was pleasantly surprised, I thought we were going to be like 10 percent,” Gonzalez said. “I think it is a positive sign.”

Not everyone, however, remained so optimistic.

“We are a party in crisis, a leadership crisis. A party that has not learned its lesson and continues the practices that led us to defeat,” Jalisco’s former Culture Secretary Santiago Baeza said last week. “It is time to reaffirm one’s political commitment.”

Party membership had risen dramatically as the PAN won successive elections in 2000 and 2006, thus ending the 71-year rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Yet the PAN slipped to third in this year’s election, leading to the exodus of party members.

The first and most notable figure to jump ship was former President Vicente Fox, who memorably backed the PRI against his own party ahead of the July 1 election. The respective former governors of Yucatan and Tlaxcala, Laviada Patricio Patron and Hector Ortiz, have also abandoned the PAN, with only around 50 percent of members in the two states opting to remain in the party.

A traditional and conservative state, Jalisco had been considered a PAN stronghold over the last 18 years, but gubernatorial candidate Fernando Guzman finished behind not only the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), but also the leftist Citizen’s Movement, with a lowly 19.87 percent of the vote on July 1. The PAN won only 22 of Jalisco’s 125 municipalities (including Chapala) and retained 12 seats in the State Congress, down from 16 in 2009.

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