López Obrador, the front-runner in the presidential election, has a chance to transform the politics of the country
Leonardo Casciero / Source: Notas Periodismo Popular / The Dawn News / June 29, 2018
On Sunday, July 1, presidential elections will be held in Mexico. According to the opinion polls, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the candidate of the left, is leading while the voters inclined to the right seem divided between Ricardo Anaya and José Antonio Meade. This is an election which is taking place amid massive political violence.
According to the consultancy Mitofsky, López Obrador and his party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) lead the opinion polls at 48.1%, followed by Anaya of the National Action Party (PAN) with 25.5% and Meade of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) with 22.5%. In the last place is the independent candidate Jaime Rodríguez (El Bronco) with 3.9%.
The elections will be defined by a simple majority, with no runoff/second round, and the final results will be available on Monday, July 2, according to the National Electoral Institute. In addition to the presidential office, federal deputies, senators, governors, mayors and councils/municipalities will also be elected.
The elections are historic in nature due to the fact that for the first time, a candidate from the left has strong possibilities of entering the National Palace and governing the country. The victory of MORENA would mean a break from decades of two-party dominance over the polity. Until now, the PRI and PAN have alternated in power but have not made any substantial changes to the neoliberal economic model and its accordant policies that are being implemented in the country.
It is in this context that Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, has appealed to the people with his anti-establishment campaign. He has managed to tap into the anger of large sections of society which are fed up with the systemic corruption and high level of violence in the country. “In Mexico, a group that controls all the public power rules to satisfy its material ambitions. Our purpose is not to reduce corruption or to restrain it but to eliminate it completely”, he has said.
Mexico is one of the most unequal countries in the world with 1% of its population owning 43% of the country’s total wealth, according to Oxfam’s data. It is the second most important economy of Latin America after Brazil but 50 million people in the country live below the poverty line and 10 million live in extreme poverty, with a minimum wage of 4.6 dollars.
Given the concrete possibility of MORENA winning the elections, the traditionally powerful parties have put all the media and polling organizations at the service of promoting and supporting the candidatures of Anaya and Meade.
In this sense, one of the obstacles that López Obrador must avoid is the political ‘mechanisms’ used by the traditional parties – distributing goods, services and money in exchange for votes, especially to the most vulnerable sections of the society.
Anibal Gracia and Camila Vollenweider of the Latin-American Geopolitical Strategic Centre (CELAG) say that although the conservative sectors are powerful, possibly in these elections, they will find themselves challenged by “the need for change and prosperity of people, who are tired of having their leaders always belonging to the upper class.”
The most violent campaign
Research carried out by the consultancy Etellekt reveals that between the beginning of the campaign on September 8, 2017 and July 16, 2018, 129 politicians were murdered, out of whom 49 were candidates or pre-candidates.
To understand the seriousness of this situation, it is sufficient to note that during the last elections in 2012, only nine such cases were registered and of which only one victim was a candidate.
The director of Etellekt, Rubén Salazar, told the EFE news agency that the spiral of political violence was “practically unstoppable.” He mentioned the lack of civic culture, bad planning of elections, conflicts among and within the parties, punitive populism and lack of security as the reasons for such violence.