Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 6/18/2012
The final presidential debate on June 10 did not appear to significantly affect the standings in the polls, as we wrote in last week’s article on the polls. Indeed, according to the new Mitofsky poll published June 14, effective support for Peña Nieto actually increased by half a percent to 44.3 percent. Vázquez Mota and Quadri both gained half a percent as well, to 25.3 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively. The main shift was decreasing support for López Obrador, who declined 1.5 percent to 28.1 percent. This is the first time in weeks that his numbers have dropped in the Mitofsky poll, though he remains in second place. According to Reuters:
Analysts said López Obrador missed an opportunity to shine in the debate after protests against Pena Nieto galvanized young voters around the left as an alternative to the government’s party and a return of the PRI, which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century.
For more on the debate, which largely concurs with this analysis, see The Week in Review: 6/11/2012.
Electoral politics and the fight against organized crime
As President Felipe Calderón (PAN) hailed a 12 percent drop in drug-related murders in the first five months of this year on June 14, the first decline in eight years, all three main presidential candidates promised a significant shift in the fight against organized crime towards a greater emphasis on reducing levels of violence over arrests and seizures. According to The New York Times:
Mexican analysts say the candidates are responding to growing public frustration with the current antidrug approach. Mr. Calderón has long portrayed the violence, much of it cartel infighting, as a sign that traffickers are on their heels, an idea that has lost resonance with the public.
However, the potential shift has raised concerns in some policy circles in the United States:
“Will there be a situation where the next president just turns a blind eye to the cartels, cedingMexicoto the cartels, or will they be a willing partner with theUnited Statesto combat them?” Representative Ben Quayle, an Arizona Republican, asked at a hearing this month inPhoenix. “I hope it’s the latter.”
Perhaps in response to these worries, frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) on June 15 said he had contracted retired Colombian General Oscar Naranjo, a “drug war hero” with, according to The Miami Herald, extensive “strategic knowledge about how to take down narcotics kingpins” and “excellent contacts in Washington” to join his security team if elected. More of Peña Nieto’s security priorities are detailed in his interview with The New York Times on June 10.
The PRI’s past and future
National Public Radio reviews a series of new Mexican movies that seek to remind voters of corruption under the PRI, while the Council on Foreign Relations’ Shannon O’Neil argues that the country’s institutions are strong enough to prevent abuse by any party, including the PRI.