Mexican countryside

Mexican countryside

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Election Day


(Image taken from the web)

Will this man be Mexico's next President?


Today is election day in Mexico.   As I write this, the polls are closing for what has been touted as the biggest election in the country's history, both in terms of the number of offices being filled and in the expected turn out.

The big race is for President of Mexico.  There are three major candidates, and one inconsequential independent candidate.  

The current ruling party PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) has been in power for the last six years under President Enrique Peña Nieto.  His administration was been plagued by scandal and he is one of the most unpopular Presidents in recent Mexican history.  Presidents are not allowed to run for reelection, but Peña Nieto's dismal approval ratings have cursed PRI's new candidate, José Antonio Meade.  Meade has been continually in third place among the three main candidates in all the polls.

(image taken from the web)



The conservative party, PAN (National Action Party) was in power from 2000 to 2012 with Presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón.  The party´s candidate this year is Ricardo Anaya.  In a desperate attempt to recapture the presidency, PAN formed an unlikely alliance with one of the leftist parties, PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party).  In spite of this, Anaya was running a distant second in the polls.

(image taken from the web)




Leading in all the polls by more than 20 points is the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador (pictured at the top) who is popularly known as AMLO.  He has created his own party which is called "Morena" (Movement for National Regeneration).  AMLO's expected victory will certainly shake up the Mexican establishment.  His critics warn that if elected, he will be another Hugo Chávez or Fidel Castro, and that he will destroy the economy with his socialist policies.  They say that he is an authoritarian and that he does not respond well to criticism from the press.  In spite of this, people are fed up with rampant corruption in the government.  PRI and PAN have had their chance, and many voters are ready to give AMLO an opportunity.  His promises to end corruption, violence and poverty are easier said than done.

I personally have mixed feelings about AMLO.  He ran for President in 2006 and narrowly lost by only 0.56 %.  Although he may be correct that there was election fraud, he lost credibility in my eyes by declaring himself the legitimate President and by disrupting Mexico City for several months afterwards with protests.  In this year's election he has created a bizarre alliance by forming a coalition with PT (the far-left Labor Party) and "Encuentro Social", right wing evangelical organization that opposes marriage equality.  AMLO has remained strangely silent on social issues. 

On the other hand, when he was mayor of Mexico City from 2000-2005, he was an effective and popular executive.  He reduced crime, and initiated programs to help senior citizens, single mothers, and the physically and mentally handicapped.  He worked with the private sector to promote the construction of housing and office buildings, and he worked with billionaire Carlos Slim (the richest man in Mexico and the fourth richest man in the world) to renovate and revitalize the city's Historic Center.  That makes me think that he is not the raging socialist that his opponents insist that he is.

Since I began writing this piece, I talked on the phone with my friend Alejandro.  He and his family went to vote this morning.  However the people lined up were angry because their local polling station did not open until 9:00 A.M. instead of 8:00 A.M.  There are rumors circulating that PRI is up to its old tricks of buying votes at the polls.  That wouldn't surprise me, but if PRI were to be declared the winner, I fear that there will indeed be trouble.

A projection on the winner should be out by eleven o'clock this evening.
 

UPDATE: At 11:00 exit polls indicate that AMLO has won the election.  Meade and Anaya have conceded.  

3 comments:

  1. I share your thoughts about AMLO. Not a lame duck candidate so much as a "meh" candidate. Hopefully he learned enough after his two previous failed elections to govern progressively yet also sensibly. We shall see.

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