The prospect of leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador becoming the next president of Mexico is making the country’s business community nervous.
Private enterprise see the veteran activist and former mayor of Mexico City as a dangerous populist firebrand diametrically opposed to the primacy of the profit motive. And as the July 1 election draws nearer, Ricardo Anaya, a conservative economist running under the coalition banner headed by the National Action Party (PAN), is seen as the only person capable of beating AMLO, as he is often referred to, at the polls.
In line with the belief that the third-place presidential candidate, Jose Antonio Meade of the discredited ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), has no chance of beating Lopez Obrador, leaders of the conservative and/or business communities are exhorting his supporters to place their vote where it won’t be wasted: with Anaya.
According to Lopez Obrador, this “lesser-of-evils” tactic, which Anaya himself believes has his main rival shaking in his boots, is a “hallucination” that will prove fruitless in the face of the overwhelming support the twice-defeated candidate enjoys.
Spokespersons for Meade – and independent candidate Margarita Zavala – are adamant in their assertion that the business community is sparing none of its considerable fiscal resources to pressure their candidates into quitting the campaign. Neither representative seems ready to bow to such pressure.
“We don’t see going along with [withdrawal from the election], in light of Anaya’s hypocrisy, double morality, double speak. There can’t be a voto util [tactical vote] for an inutil,” said Javier Lozano, a former Labor Secretary and mouthpiece for Meade, during a radio interview.
His counterpart in camp Zavala, Jorge Camacho, was similarly dismissive of the private sector’s call for his candidate’s withdrawal.
“Since we began this campaign we’ve come under a lot of pressure,” said Camacho during the radio interview featuring Lozano. “The theme for these [business] men, more than pressure, was an ‘invitation to reflect.’ But this isn’t the moment to call for a tactical vote, because Zavala plans to fight until the very end.”
Meanwhile, Ruben Moreira, current secretary for the PRI, agrees with Anaya and the business community that a tactical vote is called for but that his candidate, Meade, is the one to beat AMLO and what he terms his “totalitarian populism,” rather than Anaya.
Since the first presidential debate, Sunday, April 22, Lopez Obrador has fallen by 0.70 percent in the polls, while Anaya’s prospects have risen by 1.1 percent.
It isn’t certain whether or not this slight shift in the polls has anything to do with a flurry of anti-AMLO propaganda circulating around the country, a defamatory effort that some political analysts see as an echo of the dirty campaign orchestrated by the private sector in the last weeks before 2006’s election (which saw Lopez Obrador beaten in an upset by Felipe Calderon).
Seen plastered on the side of buses in Mexico City, for example, are advertisements for a TV series called “Populism in Latin America.” Below the program’s title is a row of four politicians: Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva of Brazil, Juan Peron of Argentina, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and, most prominently, Lopez Obrador, draped in a red, white and green sash.
The website infobae.com says that the company behind the program, La Division, claimed its series will be broadcast on the National Geographic channel, but that NatGeo swiftly denied any involvement in the project. Guadalajara’s own Milenio reports the same, adding that the La Division website is currently offline.