Batres: Morena will select congressional candidates by sortition

Morena – Movimiento Regeneración Nacional, National Regeneration Movement – is a new left-leaning political party in Mexico. Morena was founded by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), who was a presidential candidate for the PRD, one of the two major parties in Mexico, in 2006 and 2012 – losing both bids.

In what seems to be the most significant application of sortition of the modern age, Martí Batres, the party president, announced in December that Morena will select some of its candidates for the upcoming congressional elections by sortition:

The National Regeneration Movement (Morena) will select its candidates for proportional representation congressional seats by lottery, party president, Marti Batres, said Friday.

“While the traditional parties use the PR candidacies to secure elected positions for their main leaders, Morena will allot these candidacies among the members,” said Batres, according to a press release.

This, he explained, “ensures that even the humblest party supporter” can become a congressional delegate.


The congressional electoral scheme in Mexico divides the seats in both congressional chambers into those won by plurality and those allocated according to proportional representation (PR). 200 out of the 500 Chamber of Deputies seats and 32 out of the 128 Chamber of Senators seats are allocated by PR. Morena’s 2014 constitution specifies (Article 44) that its candidates for two thirds of the PR seats in each chamber would be selected by allotment among a pool of party members. The pool would be made up of members selected by district committees, 10 members from each district. The drawing will take place on February 23rd. It will be stratified by gender to assure equal representation to men and women.

Morena also commits to using sortition in a similar way to select PR candidates in municipal elections. The percentages of local PR seats vary depending on the laws of the various states.

Being a new political body, Morena’s electoral prospects are uncertain. It is clear, however, that due to the high profile of Obrador, Morena is a significant political force. A December opinion poll has Morena winning 9% of the vote, up from 7% in August. In Mexico City Morena’s electoral prospects are even better. Accordingly, the fact that Morena is employing sortition is an influential move in Mexican politics.

Morena’s plan to use sortition drew the expected dismissive reactions from the established parties:

The way the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) plans to appoint its PR candidates for the June elections next year, “will be a tomfoolery farce”, because power should not be handed out in a raffle. So said PRD federal deputy Fernando Belaunzarán.

Belaunzarán […] claimed that “el tabasqueño” [presumably, a derogatory reference to Obrador, who is originally from the Tabasco region] is an experienced politician and sortition of the PR candidacies will only be a cover for handpicking his people.

[…]

Former PRD leader Guadalupe Acosta Naranjo, said that while his party’s primaries are run by the National Institute for Elections, the primaries of Morena will be run by the National Lottery.

Batres’s response is an interesting mixture of democratic and elitist sentiments:

On the subject of the allotment of PR candidates at Morena I make the following observations:

1. Not all of Morena’s candidates will be allotted. Plurality candidates will be whoever is best positioned to win.

2. Even for PR the third listed candidates in each block of three is reserved for external as designated by the National Council.

3. PRI, PAN and PRD partisans are concerned about Morena candidates. They should worry about their own deputies: they are traitors.

4. A good deputy is not one that has a good resume, but one that defends the interests of the people.

5. For the allotment, each of the 300 district assemblies will elect a pool of ten, five men and five women.

6. To be included in the pool one has be a Morena member and be elected by a district assembly: one of the ten best members in each district.

7. The allotment will be among the best 3000 Morena members.

8. Among the allotted will be workers, peasants, intellectuals, businessmen. Old and new members. Is that wrong? No, on the contrary: It is good.

9. The 3000 Morena members in the allotment pool are certainly better than the traitorous and corrupt current deputies.

10. Morena will run for Congress by PR and plurality candidates, internal and external routes, allotted, elected and appointed.

11. A few days ago our critics said Morena candidates would be handpicked. They dropped those charges.

12. Now they criticize the leadership for not intervening to select good candidates. Is there anyone who understands them?

This post was written together with Tomas Mancebo

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2 Responses

  1. […] congressional candidates among the party rank-and-file. This was covered on Equality-by-Lot here (English version), here and […]

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