Catching Up

May 4, 2018 By 0 Comments

Between traveling and editing videos, we’ve been in a bit of a blog drought lately, so here is a roundup of the latest news to get you up to date on the Mexican presidential campaign:

  • The first debate has not produced any significant shake-up in national polling. The latest poll from the Reforma newspaper shows AMLO holding steady at 48% while the PAN candidate Ricardo Anaya is up four points, consolidating himself in a still-distant second place at 30%. As we predicted in our live coverage, Anaya’s gains have not come at the expense of AMLO, but rather from his rivals: the PRI’s José Antonio Meade is down a point, while independent candidates Jaime Rodríguez Calderón and Margarita Zavala are down one and two points, respectively.

  •   Facing tough odds and a clock that is running out, Ricardo Anaya has taken to publicly flirting with the idea of assembling an all-against-AMLO umbrella alliance, only to walk the idea back. Not two months after threatening to put current president Enrique Peña Nieto behind bars if elected in an attempt to burnish his anti-establishment credentials, Anaya, in an appearance between the Citibanamex financial group, offered to knock on the president’s door, saying: “I am absolutely open to building with those it is necessary to build with in order to win this election and make the future of this country viable.” When the moderator pressed him with the question: “Is this possible?” Anaya lowered the microphone, and in a barely audible voice, said: “Let’s say yes.” Translated into lay terms, this would mean convincing the PRI’s José Antonio Meade (presumably along with Margarita Zavala) to drop out of the race and endorse him. The proposal, needless to say, set off a firestorm of criticism: hadn’t Anaya spent the last several months battling with the PRI over the corruption allegations leveled at him? Hadn’t he accused the PRI of endemic corruption of its own, only to now be opening the doors to an alliance with them? Did this mean AMLO had been right all along in calling them one party with two separate faces, the PRIAN? Faced with this, Anaya quickly recanted, saying: “Under no circumstances would I be willing to make a pact with the elites…I want a profound change for Mexico that breaks with pacts of impunity. I don’t believe in agreements among elites, but I do believe in tactical voting.” This is what he’d meant all along, he said: that rank-and-file PRI voters should cross over and support him as the only candidate in a position to beat AMLO. But the damage had been done. To students of history, this would hardly be the first time the PRI and the PAN had teamed up with each other, albeit always in the form of deniable, behind-closed-doors pacts: the PAN support in 1988 that allowed Carlos Salinas de Gortari to take office after that year’s fraudulent presidential election, the PRI returning the favor to the PAN after the 2006 fraud, and Felipe Calderón abandoning the candidate of his own party in 2012, Josefina Vázquez Mota, to throw his support behind Peña Nieto.
  • AMLO has gotten into a war of words with one of Mexico’s largest business associations, the Mexican Business Council (Consejo mexicano de negocios, or CMN). At a May 1st rally, AMLO alleged that a number of the nation’s high-profile magnates – Claudio X Gonzalez; Alberto Bailleres (Grupo Bal); Germán Larrea (Grupo Mexico); Eduardo Tricio (Grupo Lala) and Alejandro Ramírez (Cinépolis) – met with Ricardo Anaya, who was to have asked for their help in cementing the electoral alliance with Peña Nieto described above. AMLO proceeded to call them “influence traffickers” who “want to continue running and sacking” [the country]. In response, the CMN took out an ad entitled “Not Like This” (Así no) rejecting AMLO’s “injurious and calumnious expressions,” adding that it was “worrying that someone who aspires to be president of Mexico insults those who do not share his ideas.” But far from backing off, AMLO doubled down on the allegations in last night’s episode of the Tercer Grado interview program (minute 21:40), asking the members of the council to come clean and admit how much money they were spending to oppose him. The bad blood between AMLO and these elite business associations goes back at least as far as the 2006 campaign, when the Business Coordinating Council – the CCE, which has come out in support of the CMN in this current dispute – ran a series of attack ads against AMLO, which the Electoral Tribunal unanimously declared to have violated electoral law (unlike the US, non-political parties are forbidden from running ads during campaigns for or against candidates). The business elite has been relatively muted in this year’s campaign – whether lulled by AMLO’s feints to the center or resigned to his victory – but things began to heat up in the middle of April when magnate Carlos Slim held a press conference to defend the Mexico City airport project (see our blog on this here) and attack AMLO for opposing it, which the CCE used as cover to cancel a conference they’d agreed to hold with AMLO to study the issue. What particularly galls AMLO, of course, is the plotting between political and business elites in an attempt to tip yet another election in their favor. And now that the business community has what it perceives to be a legitimate grievance against AMLO, expect its members to use as it a cudgel to beat him with again and again through the first of July and beyond.