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18:36, 01 July 2018

Mexico’s Elections: What to Watch For


Mexico’s Elections: What to Watch For

Mexico&rsquos Elections: What to Watch For

Image
From left to appropriate: Leftist front-runner Andres Manuel L&oacutepez Obrador of Morena, Institutional Revolutionary Celebration presidential candidate Jose Antonio Meade and Ricardo Anaya, presidential candidate for the National Action Celebration.CreditHenry Romero/Reuters

By Kirk Semple

MEXICO CITY &mdash The superlatives have abounded throughout the run-up to general elections in Mexico: The most crucial in years. The most possible voters. The biggest ever.

Voters began casting their ballots on Sunday, with about 89 million Mexicans eligible to vote for more than 3,400 neighborhood, state and federal posts about the country &mdash the most races ever contested on a single Mexican Election Day.

The crown jewel is the presidency &mdash a six-year term leading Latin America&rsquos second-largest economy, in a nation with 128 million folks. The race, in portion, is a referendum on President Enrique Pe&ntildea Nieto&rsquos six years in power. Mr. Pe&ntildea Nieto, who heads the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Celebration, named the PRI, cannot run again because presidents are barred from in search of a second term.

The 4 contenders have all provided themselves as the solution to the nation&rsquos myriad difficulties &mdash rampant violence and corruption, a sluggish economy, and widespread poverty and inequality. But one particular of them, Andr&eacutes Manuel L&oacutepez Obrador, appears to have had the most success capitalizing on widespread discontent. A victory by him would stand as a repudiation of the nation&rsquos two dominant establishment parties, which have traded handle of the presidency since the finish of the PRI&rsquos one particular-celebration dominance in 2000.

A lot more than half of Mexicans still live below the poverty line, wages have stagnated for far more than a decade, the yawning gap between the nation&rsquos wealthy and poor persists, and a majority of workers in Mexico are in informal labor sector jobs.

What Are the Primary Problems?

Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador, a leftist former mayor of Mexico City generating his third bid for the presidency, has positioned himself as the consummate outsider. And for the initial time in decades, a leftist could be taking the helm of the nation. He promises to attack corruption and poverty.

On the campaign trail, Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador knew he could fire up crowds by railing against what he known as &ldquothe mafia of power.&rdquo It was shorthand for the small, insular Mexican political and company class that has dominated the country for generations and, he said, employed its position to enrich itself and its buddies.

He contends that Mr. Pe&ntildea Nieto&rsquos efforts to modernize the nation came at a price, and has vowed to reverse some of those achievements. He has openly questioned an power reform passed early in Mr. Pe&ntildea Nieto&rsquos term and vowed to cancel an education reform, each of which passed with resounding majorities in Congress.

But whilst Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador has produced the fight against corruption central to his campaign, so have the other candidates. There may be no other situation that unifies the electorate so totally.

The ruling party has given the candidates a lot to rail against, like higher-profile corruption scandals that took down several of the PRI&rsquos governors. There had been also allegations that best officials embezzled public funds to spend for electoral campaigns. And Mr. Pe&ntildea Nieto&rsquos reputation took a plunge when it was revealed that his wife had purchased a home from a government contractor on favorable terms.

The presidential campaign unfolded against a backdrop of record violence, another major theme for the candidates. The month of Could saw the highest number of homicides of any single month in two decades, and there were much more homicides last year than in any other year during the exact same period, according to the authorities.

The surging violence is blamed in part on the fracturing of large organized crime groups as a outcome of the government&rsquos longstanding strategy of targeting drug kingpins, a cornerstone of its offensive against the nation&rsquos major drug trafficking organizations.

What About Relations With the United States?

For two years, President Trump has taken an aggressive, hectoring approach toward Mexico. He has accused the neighboring country&rsquos government of weakness on illegal immigration and promised to construct a wall on the border. He also threatened to toss out the North American Cost-free Trade Agreement and has stripped much of the challenging-fought excellent will from the bilateral connection.

Image
Mexican military guard the entrance to the National Electoral Institute, or the I.N.E., in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.CreditBrett Gundlock for The New York Times

But during the Mexican presidential campaign, talk of international relations, specifically with the neighbor to the north, was notably absent. Instead, the concentrate was largely on domestic concerns. Amid such pressing issues, international relations seemed a remote concern to several voters.

Still, the partnership among the two countries will remain central on the agenda of the incoming president. The two nations are deeply intertwined through trade, migration and culture. All the candidates, to varying degrees, have stated they intend to function hard to keep and boost the relationship, even though each has sought to show that he could stand up to Mr. Trump&rsquos bullying.

Some see a victory by Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador as supplying probably the greatest threat of disruption to relations with the U.S. But the candidate has been pretty moderate and pragmatic on the subject of Mr. Trump lately, saying in a current interview, &ldquoWe are going to keep a good partnership. Or rather, we will aim to have a great bilateral connection because it is indispensable.&rdquo

Who&rsquos Running?

If the polls are correct, Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador, 64, will win the day with a landslide. Representing a left-appropriate alliance led by his fairly new Morena celebration, he has cast himself as the only candidate who can break the status quo and lead the nation out of its frustrating stasis.

His strongest challenger is Ricardo Anaya, 39, whose quick ascent has inspired awe and hatred, specifically for the way he has deftly &mdash several say ruthlessly &mdash sidelined and disposed of his opponents along the way.

Representing a left-correct alliance led by his correct-leaning National Action Party, he, too, has presented himself as a break from the status quo, although a better-ready, far more forward-seeking and safer alternative than Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador.

Coming in third place in most polls is Jose Antonio Meade, 49, the candidate for the governing PRI who has held numerous cabinet posts in two administrations. He has sought to separate himself from the deeply unpopular administration of Mr. Pe&ntildea Nieto, even though he was a member of it till he launched his candidacy. But his campaign has not been in a position to escape the taint of this longstanding association.

Jaime Rodr&iacuteguez Calder&oacuten, an independent candidate who took a leave of absence as governor of the state of Nuevo Le&oacuten to compete, has been bringing up the rear in the polls. He has barely registered on the electorate&rsquos consciousness except at moments exactly where his famously unbridled tongue has grabbed focus. He proposed during one presidential debate that thieves ought to be punished by obtaining their hands chopped off.

What if Polls Are Wrong?

In his first run for president in 2006, Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador lost by less than 1 %. But he did not go quietly.

He claimed fraud and led his supporters in a monthslong protest, taking over Mexico City&rsquos primary square, blocking one of the city&rsquos major boulevards and even staging an inauguration ceremony for himself.

If Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador does not win, protests could erupt once more, with his camp charging fraud.

One particular wild card in the polling numbers are the undecided voters. At least 1 main poll place the number above 20 %. If sufficient of them tilt toward a single of Mr. L&oacutepez Obrador&rsquos competitors, Mexico could be in for a long postelection dispute.

What Other Posts Are Up for Grabs?

With so numerous elected posts in play, from the nation&rsquos highest office to the lowliest municipal council seat, the presidential candidates are urging their supporters to vote their party slates.

In addition to the presidency, voters will be electing a new national Congress &mdash 128 senators and 500 deputies &mdash eight governors and a head of government in Mexico City, as effectively as representatives to state congresses, mayors and municipal councils.

When Are Benefits Expected?

Polls close on a rolling basis at 6 p.m. nearby time. A &ldquorapid count&rdquo outcome of the presidential vote, primarily based on a sampling of polling stations around the nation, will be released ahead of midnight Eastern Time. Full counts for the presidential race and for other national, regional and regional elections are not anticipated till midmorning on Monday.

Published at Sun, 01 Jul 2018 16:25:08 +0000


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