The Week in Review: 1/17/2012

Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 1/17/2012

Peña Nieto

A new poll confirms Enrique Peña Nieto’s lead, but by a decreasing margin. Michoacán state officials prepare for a new mayoral election in Morelia, but avoid a rematch in the gubernatorial race. The Mexico City mayoral contest heats up, and the campaign teams of several potential presidential candidates are expanded. Lastly, two American analysts assess the nature and impact of the presidential race.


The polls

A new Mitofsky poll reveals a dip in support for Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI), from 44.6 to 42 percent, though he still leads his closest potential rival, Josefina Vázquez Mota (PAN), by a margin of two to one. Reuters attributes the drop for Peña Nieto to his series of recent gaffes in public appearances.   While not good news for the presumed frontrunner, some had speculated he would see a greater decline and thus his “inevitability” factor might be punctured.  He seems to have survived that possibility for now.

Vázquez Mota leads her two competitors for the PAN nomination by more than ten points among PAN voters, who will decide on their candidate on February 5th.  In theoretical matchups with candidates from other parties, her support has steadily increased amongst all voters, now stands at 20.8 percent.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador trails the other two parties, though his popularity has increased. He polled 17.2 percent in this poll conducted in December, compared to 16.1 percent in November.


Upcoming mayoral elections: Morelia and Mexico City

Morelia

A new Morelia mayoral election will be held on June 3rd, 2012. The first vote, held in November 2011, was annulled on December 28th, 2011  because of what the Electoral Tribunal ruled was a violation of the ban on campaigning during the final days of the contest (see our analysis from last week). The PRI will run the same candidate, Wilfrido Lázaro Medina; the PAN and PRD have not selected theirs yet. The electoral tribune decided not to nullify the results of the Michoacán gubernatorial race, which the PAN had also petitioned to be reversed.

The Mexico City mayoral race, to be held on July 1st, has heated up as well. The PAN’s candidate, decided by a select group of party leaders, will be activist Isabel Miranda de Wallace. After her son was kidnapped in 2005, Miranda de Wallace has promoted anti-kidnapping laws through her organization “Alto al secuestro” (“Stop kidnappings”). She was awarded the national human rights prize in 2010.

The PRD, which has as many as twelve interested candidates, held a poll this weekend (January 14-16) to determine its candidate. The leader is former Mexico City attorney general Miguel Ángel Mancera, followed by Alejandra Barrales, President of the Government Commission of the Federal District’s Legislative Assembly. The results of the poll are forthcoming.

 

Campaign staff

Gil Zuarth

The campaign teams of the presidential aspirants have seen some additions in the past week. PAN frontrunner Josefina Vázquez Mota has named Roberto Gil Zuarth, a former advisor to President Calderón, her campaign manager. Former Michoacán gubernatorial candidate Luisa María Calderón joined the campaign team of Ernesto Cordero, one of Vázquez Mota’s two rivals for the PAN nomination, reinforcing perceptions that President Calderón and his political allies are lining up behind Cordero. The three contenders will participate in a debate tonight (January 17th).

El Informador notes the number of intellectuals supporting PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s campaign. His platform, according to the newspaper, reflects his close relationship with writer Elena Poniatowska, historian and academic Lorenzo Meyer, political scientist Arnaldo Córdova, and philosopher and diplomat José María Pérez Gay.


Views from the United States

Olson

The New York Times featured commentary by Mexico Institute Senior Advisor Eric Olson on the presidential election’s impact on the fight against organized crime. While all the candidates have vowed to reign in the military and increasingly rely on civilian forces, Olson doubts how quickly changes will be made. “My hunch,” he says, “is that it will be a slow process.”

The Council on Foreign Relations’ Shannon O’Neil writes in a blog piece about the potential movement in the months leading up to the July election:

Though many see the race as locked up [in favor of the PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto], there are still six long months to go. The PAN has yet to choose its hopeful, and current front-runner Josefina Vázquez Mota could shake up the race as the first female presidential candidate from one of the main political parties (and due to her distance from President Calderón). AMLO too has been working to revamp his image away from the combativeness of the last five years, talking to the media about “love and peace,” and saying recently, “I want to be the Mexican Lula,” the market friendly former president of Brazil. His poll numbers have risen, and even some business leaders have switched over to AMLO’s camp. Peña Nieto has stumbled a few times in unscripted moments, for instance when he couldn’t name his favorite books (even as he hawked his own campaign book) at the Guadalajara International Book Fair.  Some wonder if he can hold his own in a debate.

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