May 2, 2018

Political Thermometer


Mexico’s political temperature continues to rise as the political campaigns formally begin their march towards Mexico’s upcoming election.  The public is now learning of the candidates’ proposals, and while there had been indications of what each candidate’s proposal would contain, they are now learning the details of each candidate: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, for the MORENA-PES-PT, Ricardo Anaya, for the PAN-PRD-MC,  and Jose Antonio Meade, for the PRI-PVEM-PANAL, who are joined by Margarita Savala and Jaime Rodriguez Calderon (Mr. Rodriguez is also known as “El Bronco”), as two independent candidates who have gained entry onto the presidential ballot.

In light of the confusion generated by the various party coalition, in which it has been difficult to distinguish the ideological formulas behind each coalition, all signs indicate that this will be an election more of candidates rather than parties or political orientation. To demonstrate the above, the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional or PAN), which is characterized as a center-right party, has teamed up with the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática or PRD), which is firmly aligned with the left side of the political spectrum. The coalition of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is comprised of the MORENA and Labor Party (Partido del Trabajo or PT), which are both undeniably leftist parties, combined with the Social Encounter Party (Partido Encuentro Social or PES), the most far right party on the political spectrum, also demonstrates this fact. While the parties’ proposals will be important, the personal profiles and personalities of the candidates will likely determine who will win the election.

Many have leveled serious attacks against candidate Anaya for supposed money laundering activities. In response, the candidates of the PAN-PRD-MC coalition has alleged that candidate Meade mishandled public funds during his tenure as the Secretary of Social Development. It is unlikely that any of these allegations will result in formal legal charges. However, it is notable that Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) opened a file investigating the alleged money laundering charges against candidate Anaya, which is currently under review. All of this is occurring against the backdrop of serious criticism from the general public, the media, academics and political rivals concerning Mexico’s criminal justice system. Further elevating the temperature was a divided decision (four votes to three) of the Mexican Federal Electoral Court approving the registration of Jaime Rodriguez Calderon as an independent candidate, notwithstanding numerous inconsistencies in documentation submitted to show the necessary number of signatures of citizens required to be placed on the ballot. This has generated protests and claims that will last throughout the campaign and will be a topic in the three presidential debates organized by Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (Instituto Nacional Electoral or INI).

The presidential debates will in a way be voting contest themselves, as the candidates publicly level accusations against each other. In addition, debates will allow each of the candidates to show their ability to attack their rivals and defend themselves in open debate. Political polling continues to show candidate AMLO in the lead, followed by Mr. Anaya. Nothing, however, will be final until the election on July 1, when Mexican voters will decide who will serve as Mexico’s next President. This will be a difficult test for Mexico’s democracy and the political thermometer, which could rise to unprecedented temperatures.