Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 2/6/2012
The PAN yesterday selected Josefina Vázquez Mota as its presidential candidate; she easily beat her rivals with 55 percent of the vote (with 88 percent counted). Meanwhile, the PRI battles two possible corruption scandals and the PRD’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador touts his security plan. Lastly, the latest Mitofsky Poll has good news for the likely candidates.
Josefina Vázquez Mota won 55 percent of the PAN primary vote yesterday (2/5) and with it her party’s nod for the presidential race. She was long considered the frontrunner, so the result was unsurprising. She is the closest competitor to the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto, though still trailing, and is the first female presidential candidate for any of the major parties. The Mexico Institute’s Eric L. Olson commented to The Huffington Post that this adds some “uncertainty” to the race: “There’s never been a strong female presidential candidate for any other major party before. It adds that historical element and maybe some excitement.”
The candidates had participated in a debate last week that focused largely on security. While only Vázquez Mota will go through to the presidential race, the ideas of the former rivals are relevant as may be incorporated into her strategy. Mexico Institute colleagues Diana Murray Watts and Eric L. Olson analyzed the proposals and positions of the three candidates last week:
“In our estimation, candidates were typically long on emphasizing the importance of an issue but short on specific proposals for addressing the challenges posed by crime and violence. As for last Tuesday’s debate, the candidates did not enter into a deeper discussion about the issues of major concern to Mexicans, and consequently missed an opportunity to put forward creative ideas and solutions.”
Two possible corruption scandals exploded in the PRI last week, which its presidential candidate has denied. First, three former PRI governors from the border region are being investigated for unknown federal crimes. The Attorney General’s office has not announced the charges or the individuals targeted yet, but The Washington Post points out that organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering are all considered federal offenses in Mexico and that three former Tamaulipas governors confirmed they are being investigated.
Second, an official in the PRI-governed state of Veracruz was found with $1.9million cash in his luggage last week. He defended the act, a surprising one in a country where carrying large amounts of cash is unusual, as a hurried, legitimate payment to a consulting company. The PAN said the explanation was an “insult to the intelligence of Mexicans:
“It is no coincidence that this amount of money was taken to Toluca … and that is precisely where the campaign of the PRI’s favored son, Enrique Pena Nieto, operates,” the party said in a statement.
Enrique Peña Nieto has emphatically denied the charge, and decried what he considers to be politically motivated targeting in both cases. Analysts in another Post article suggest the claims of corruption and political moves may both be true.
Lastly, a new Excélsior poll suggests candidates’ personal issues, such as the recent revelation that Peña Nieto had two previously unknown children out of wedlock, matter little to voters.
Presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador has asked voters to trust his plan to address drug-related violence in the country, which he says will resolve the violence “in little time.” He has stressed the need for a unified police force and has promised to end violations of human rights.
Andrew Selee, Director of the Mexico Institute, says the latest Mitofsky poll on the presidential candidates has “good news” for all the candidates:
The latest Mitofsky poll has good news for all the likely candidates. Peña Nieto continues to lead the pack by a large margin despite some recent turbulence in his campaign, and his image remains overwhelmingly positive in the face of recent scandals. Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador remains in third place, but his overall public image has improved and he remains in striking distance of second place (and, some might add, of first place if Peña Nieto’s candidacy were to drop in the polls). And Josefina Vázquez Mota continues to be extremely well placed to start her campaign in second place — a distant second place, but also in striking distance of first place if Peña Nieto drops in the polls.