The momentum is clearly with left-of-center candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is increasing his lead over his rivals in the presidential race, polls suggest.
The latest numbers released this week give AMLO (as he is often referred to) a 15-25 percentage point lead over Ricardo Anaya of the PAN/PRD coalition, followed in third place by Antonio Meade of the incumbent Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), with independent Jaime Rodriguez (El Bronco) trailing on just three percent support.
All four candidates are cranking up their campaigns with three weeks remaining until election day on Sunday, July 1. Predictably, Anaya and Meade – backed by Mexico’s spooked business elite – are concentrating their focus on the perils of electing a populist such as Lopez Obrador, warning of the possibility of capital flight, economic chaos, social unrest and Venezuela scenarios. The promotion of the PRI and PAN/PRD candidates’ own programs and their vision for Mexico has been more or less relegated to the back burner as AMLO gallops relentlessly toward the presidency.
For his part, Lopez Obrador and his team – a far more ideologically broad-based assemblage than in his previous two presidential bids – have been playing it safe, stressing the veteran politician’s moderate, rather then leftist, qualities. Far from being a radical left-winger, his closest advisors say, AMLO is actually committed to maintaining the independence of the central bank, a free floating currency and NAFTA, in addition to moderating public spending.
His successful term as Mexico City’s chief executive from 2000-2006 tends to support the view that Lopez Obrador is willing to collaborate with non-kindred spirits (following a European socialist model) and scotches the gloom-and-doom premonitions of his adversaries. During that period, he worked closely with telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim to redevelop the downtown zone of the capital, as well as private enterprise to build a second tier on the periferico.
Lopez Obrador has even backtracked somewhat on his fierce opposition to President Peña Nieto’s reforms that opened up Mexico’s energy sector to foreign investment. He has promised not to reverse the reforms but will, instead, carefully scrutinize all the contracts awarded to date to ensure there is no corruption in play.
Most political commentators agree that Lopez Obrador’s uncompromising stance against corruption is largely responsible for convincing significant numbers of voters that he deserves a chance to lead Mexico, regardless of his ideological persuasions. The candidate stresses that his main targets will be the “fat cat” politicians and entrepreneurs who have enriched themselves on the backs on the Mexican people, and that bona fide business people have nothing to fear from his presidency.
The third and final televised debate among the four presidential candidates takes place Tuesday, June 12, 9 p.m. in Merida, Yucatan. The encounter will include questions submitted by the general public via social media.