Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 1/9/2012
Happy New Year and welcome to the election year! In recent weeks, electoral laws limited campaigning for “candidates únicos” Enrique Peña Nieto and Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The PAN announced plans for candidate debates and frontrunner Josefina Vázquez Mota suggests boosting private investment in Pemex. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD) released his intended cabinet appointments, as his party fielded a wide array of contenders for the Mexico City mayoral race. The PRI faced the reversal of its November victory in the Morelia mayoral election.
Enrique Peña Nieto and Andrés Manuel López Obrador have been banned from campaigning until the official campaign begins in March. Both parties settled on their candidates before their primaries were to be held, leading to a vacuum of time where they already had selected their candidates but the official campaign period had not begun. In this unanticipated period, the hopefuls may make speeches but cannot ask for support or run campaign ads.
Peña Nieto has criticized the decision as unfair, since the PAN candidates are allowed to campaign until the end of its primary season in February; López Obrador has accepted the ruling.
The PAN’s National Executive Committee (CEN) decided against an internal poll to gauge support for the PAN candidates prior to the February 5th closed election to determine its presidential nominee. Hopefuls Josefina Vázquez Mota and Santiago Creel had both opposed the poll, stating that it disrupted the established rules set by the party; Ernesto Cordero supported the idea. The CEN determined instead that two debates between the candidates would be held prior to the internal election.
Vázquez Mota, the frontrunner among the PAN candidates with the support of 62 percent of party members, detailed several economic and security-related reform goals in recent weeks. First, she committed to raising economic growth to an annual rate of at least six or seven percent if elected president. To do so, she suggested reforming labor laws to make it easier for companies to hire and fire workers, increasing tax collection, and boosting private investment in Mexico’s oil sector. On the latter point, Vázquez Mota raised the possibility of listing Pemex, the state-owned oil company, on the stock exchange. She highlighted the Brazilian experience as a possible guide: “The case of Petrobras is a good reference point, not necessarily to copy it 100 percent, but it deserves particular attention.” For more on this, CSIS’s Duncan Wood has a helpful new piece comparing candidate proposals for oil sector reform.
Second, Vázquez Mota called for a second phase in the fight against organized crime including greater tools for state and municipal governments to address the violence, and for stronger money laundering laws.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the PRD’s de facto candidate, released his intended cabinet appointments if elected president. He would invite his former competitor for the party’s nomination, Marcelo Ebrard, to be his Interior Minister; Ebrard indicted he would accept the position. López Obrador also suggested economist Rogelio de la O as Finance Secretary and former UNAM rector José Ramon de la Fuente as Secretary of Education.
The PRD is also focused on choosing its candidate for the Mexico City mayoral race, to take place the same day as the presidential election. The outgoing attorney general in the Federal District, Miguel Ángel Mancera, leads the pack of 12 possible candidates for the party nomination with 28 percent support, according to a Reforma poll. Mancera stepped down from his post, as required by electoral rules, on January 6th, in order to contend for the party nomination. The PRD is the party most preferred by voters, though the PRI’s Beatriz Paredes is the candidate with greatest name recognition and is polling ahead of all other candidates.
The Federal Electoral Tribunal on December 28th ruled that the PRI’s victory in the November mayoral race in Morelia should be overturned due to its violation of a ban on campaigning in the days leading up to the vote. The offending act was a PRI badge worn on the shorts of Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez in a televised world title fight in Las Vegas the day before the election (see photo at left). A new vote will be held in the next five months. The PAN is hopeful the same logic will apply to the the gubernatorial race, in which the party’s candidate lost, according to the party, due to similar irregularities. A decision is pending.
Lastly, two new articles wonder about the impact of Peña Nieto’s recent stumbles on the July election. The Economist’s “A nervous new year for the PRI” and The Los Angeles Times’ “On his stroll toward Mexico’s presidency, Pena Nieto stumbles” make for interesting reads.