Conservative Jalisco is not a natural stomping ground for leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to trumpet his platform.
But the former popular mayor of Mexico City – the country’s most liberal metropolis – is aware that he needs votes from all corners of the country if he is to be successful in his third attempt to become the president of Mexico on July 1.
As of April 11, the candidate for Morena commanded an 11-point lead in the polls. Despite these encouraging stats, Lopez Obrador and his team know this advantage can quickly be eroded (he enjoyed a sizable lead over Felipe Calderon early in the 2006 campaign before eventually falling at the final hurdle) and are convinced that he must widen his appeal in central and northern Mexican states that normally turn up their noses up at any whiff of a left-wing candidate.
Polling shows that Lopez Obrador’s fierce anti-corruption message is resonating with voters above any other theme in most areas of Mexico. He continued to underscore this during a brief swing through Jalisco last week, holding mass rallies in the main plazas of Zapopan and Tequila. “Corruption is the cancer that destroys the country,” he told his followers, adding that his three key principles are, “Don’t lie, don’t steal and don’t betray the people.”
But these rallying cries against injustice, impunity and dishonesty were not enough to get him past the winning posts in 2006 and 2012. Tactics will be crucial in 2018, political analysts say.
Lopez Obrador will be aware how much the fear factor will come into play, especially during the last few weeks of the campaign when the hostility between candidates ratchets up. So far, he has refused to attack his opponents with any real venom – keeping in check his notorious temper – and has been careful to assure business leaders that the economic stability of Mexico will not be compromised under his presidency. This is despite recent statements that suggest he might cancel energy contracts awarded under the Peña Nieto regime and, possibly, cancel construction contracts for the new $US15 billion Mexico City airport.
His proposals to regenerate a stagnant economy are also being questioned. Lopez Obrador has announced plans to oversee a period of government-sponsored domestic growth similar to the 1950s to 1970s, while vowing not to plunge Mexico into a debt crisis reminiscent of the early 1980s. His opponents say his ideas for funding large-scale public works are sketchy and regressive, and out of step with the global economic environment.
One thing we know from past experience is that Lopez Obrador will not break faith with his left-of-center principles, unlike his former party, the Partido de la Revolution Democratica (PRD), which has forged an unlikely left/right alliance with the conservative National Action Party (PAN) under the candidacy of 39-year-old Ricardo Anaya. With Anaya currently running second in the polls behind Lopez Obrador, Mexico faces the unusual scenario of potentially holding a presidential election in which the mighty Partido Revolucionario (PRI) is not a factor.