The Week in Review: 12/12/2011

Katie Putnam, The Mexico Institute’s Elections Guide, 12/12/2011

Enrique Peña Nieto has a “Rick Perry moment” at a renowned Mexican book fair, the three PAN candidates prepare to formally register for the party’s primary, and Andrés Manuel López Obrador tells supporters he will win in 2012 as he did in 2006.



The PAN race remains a contest between three candidates, all still intent on winning the nomination. After  sparing during the online PAN debate on November 28th (read more here, under “The PAN”), Ernesto Cordero has continued his jabs at Josefina Vázquez Mota, the frontrunner. He told the press that his competitor “wasn’t honest” and that she had a “weak character.” Santiago Creel, meanwhile, is still confident in his victory.

Each will formally register for the primary race this week: Vázquez Mota today (December 12th), Creel on December 14th, and Cordero on December 15th. Affiliated and active PAN members will select their presidential candidate on February 15th in a closed poll.

Peter Corcoran of the Gancho Blog considers this late decision date to be deleterious for the party. If some voters were unimpressed by the priísta Enrique Peña Nieto’s gaffe at a world-class book fair this week (see below under “The PRI”), Corcoran sees them moving in three ways:

They can either drop out of the election [and not vote], shift their support toward AMLO, or hold their nose and continue supporting Peña Nieto. They cannot, however, latch on to the PAN alternative, because there isn’t one yet. If Vázquez Mota were already the candidate, she could be using this to slam Peña Nieto and make herself seem comparatively smarter and appealing […]; in February, this will be a distant memory. All of the negative Peña Nieto energy from this episode will have dissipated, with no boost to the PAN.



Leading presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto’s embarrassing response at the renowned Guadalajara International Book Fair has earned him (unfavorable) comparisons to Republican presidential contender and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Asked which three books have influenced him most, Peña Nieto “paused, stumbled over his words, and could only cite the Bible and one other title, for which he cited the wrong author.” He failed to reference any particular passage in the Bible either; instead, he “merely made a vague reference to ‘some passages of it.’”

Comparing the moment to Perry’s painful failure during a presidential debate earlier this year to name the three federal agencies he would eliminate if elected, some wonder if this could dent Peña Nieto’s high popularity. As political commentator Denise Dresser recently wrote:

“[Peña Nieto] follows the script and is a rigid politician, not good at improvising, debating or moving away from what is written down in front of him. When he departs from script, he slips and that’s why his advisers don’t let him do it.”

On the other hand, criticism by Mexico’s intellectual class may actually endear the former governor to the large section of Mexico’s voters who are poor and do not have the luxury of an elite education or access to extensive libraries.  Future polling may provide some idea of how lasting this self-inflicted wound will be for Peña Nieto.



Andrés Manuel López Obrador formally registered his candidacy with  the PRD; like the PRI’s Peña Nieto, he is the only candidate in his party to do so, but will not be the official candidate until February, per electoral rules. He told supporters: “we won in 2006, and will win again in 2012!”

He identified corruption as the biggest threat in Mexico, defended his championship of the poor (“prioritizing the poor is not populism”), and promised not to raise taxes if elected.


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