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News > Latin America

Mexico's Elections: Candidates' Profiles and Programs

  • Presidential candidates (L-R): Ricardo Anaya, AMLO, Jose Antonio Meade, and Jaime Rodriguez Calderon.

    Presidential candidates (L-R): Ricardo Anaya, AMLO, Jose Antonio Meade, and Jaime Rodriguez Calderon. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 June 2018

Four candidates dispute Mexico's presidency in the upcoming national elections.

On July 1, Mexico will elect national and local authorities, including their next president, who will lead the Latin American country for the next six years. With the elections drawing closer, teleSUR takes a look at the four presidential candidates and their political programs.

AMLO Increases Lead in Mexico's Presidential Polls

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)

Widely regarded as Mexico’s left-wing candidate, AMLO, who is running for the “Together We Will Make History” coalition is leading the latest polls with an average of at least 46.3 percent of effective voter intention among likely voters.

He started his political career at 23 after graduating from the political science and public administration program at Mexico’s Autonomous University. In the late seventies, he worked as a local representative of the National Indigenous Institute.

His commitment to the Indigenous people he worked with led AMLO to accompany them in setting up protest camps outside Mexico's oil company to demand compensation for lands this company had polluted

Between 2000 and 2005 he was mayor of Mexico City and later ran for the presidency twice.  

AMLO is running on a platform against corruption, neoliberal economic policies, the privatization of oil, electricity and the country’s cultural heritage. His program also stresses the urgency of recognizing the right to self-determination and land ownership for Mexico’s Indigenous people and Campesinos.

To fight corruption he is proposing to eliminate legal protections for high ranking officials, including the president, and those suspected of corruption, and has called for more accountability, not only regarding the federal government, but also parties, unions, businesses, the church, and the media.

Despite criticism that AMLO has an authoritarian character, he has vowed to strengthen democracy by using public referendums as a decision-making tool during his government.

His political program also includes democratization of media by guaranteeing different actors will get state licenses and access to information technologies. Two privately-owned stations, TV Azteca and Televisa, hold a virtual monopoly over Mexico's media.  

On Mexico's war on drugs, AMLO has said it is necessary to consider amnesties for people who got involved in drug trafficking out of necessity, and reiterated these would not benefit drug lords.

On Mexico’s economic model, Lopez Obrador believes the state needs to play a more active role in economic development by promoting access to education, productive chains that generate added value, small businesses, and uphold the need to reverse tax breaks for powerful corporations in Mexico.  

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His stance on the economy and his public intentions of backtracking on president Enrique Peña Nieto’s policies, especially in the oil and electricity sectors, have made some businessmen weary. However, many other sectors support his program. Particularly, AMLO’s stated commitment to universal healthcare, public education, and food sovereignty.   

Others support him because he is seen as an alternative to the political class responsible for the current state of the country.   

Political scientist Eduardo Huchim recently told BBC News sectors of the middle and middle-upper classes in Mexico "are angry because of impunity, bad governments of all political parties and they choose to punish them by voting for AMLO."

AMLO is the only progressive candidate left after Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez, commonly known as Marichuy, was disqualified.  

Ricardo Anaya

Candidate for the “For Mexico at the Front” coalition, led by the National Action Party (PAN). Anaya is a lawyer and political scientist who is polling in second place with approximately 27 percent of support from likely voters in the latest round of polls.

In 2008 he was human development coordinator for the state of Queretaro, and in 2011 he held a high post in Mexico’s ministry of tourism. Anaya lead the PAN for two years between 2015 and 2017.

To fight corruption he has endorsed AMLO’s proposals to eliminate legal protections enjoyed by the president and other high government officials. However, he is currently involved in a corruption and money-laundering scandal.   

For social development, Anaya proposes the “1,000 days” program, which focuses on the mother and child through a program that provides health and food supplements since pregnancy and until the child’s third year.

He has vowed to reform the current school curriculum to promote science, technology, engineering and math, but has not proposed a model to include a greater a number of Mexicans in public education system.

Anaya’s political platform also includes a commitment to end insecurity by promoting sports, education, and well-paid jobs, and applying a strategy that includes guaranteeing autonomous state institutions, and doubling the police force in size. 

On the economic front, Anaya has called for the creation of a specialized unit to promote public-private alliances, an increase in public investments, and a reduction of the number of public servants.  

One of his most interesting proposals, which sets him apart from the other candidates, is the creation of a universal basic income to reduce inequality and extreme poverty in the country.

Jose Antonio Meade

Candidate for the “Everyone for Mexico” coalition formed by the PRI, the Green Party, and New Alliance, Meade is currently polling in third place with 23.3 percent of support on average in the latest round of polls.  

He got his Ph.D. in economics at Yale University in 1997, after which he began a career in public service when he started working for Mexico's finance minister. Since then he has served as minister in the Felipe Calderon and Enrique Peña Nieto administrations. He has been Mexico’s foreign minister, social development minister, and finance minister.

Like the other two candidates he has vowed to eliminate legal protections for high officials investigated for corruption, and like Anaya, Meade himself is involved in a corruption scandal dating to 2015 when he was head of Mexico's social development ministry.

During his tenure, the ministry received an extra US$600 million that was supposedly meant for a social program for the elderly and children in indigenous communities. However, the country's 2015 census revealed that 2 million program beneficiaries did not exist.         

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Meade has also called for an autonomous general attorney’s office at the federal and state level.

To fight insecurity Meade proposes to unify the penal code and sentencing for robbery, extortion, femicides, and homicides and increase the state’s capacity to investigate cases to end impunity.  

The candidate has also said he supports president Peña Nieto’s Internal Security Law, which has been widely criticized by human rights organizations and activists for the role it gives the army and naval forces in civil security duties.

“We have asked too much of the army and the naval forces, they deserve that we provide them with security,” his platform states.

His candidacy is also tarnished by his party. The PRI is widely blamed for rampant corruption and violence. Last year state prosecutors arrested a former PRI Tamaulipas governor for co-operating with the Gulf cartel, one of Mexico's largest drug-trafficking networks.

On the social front, Meade has offered to ensure public hospitals are well-equipped, widen the reach of free daycare centers, include domestic workers in the social security system, and guarantee women can access loans with no economic requirement.

Jaime Rodriguez Calderon

Better known as El Bronco, the agricultural engineer and independent candidate is polling in a distant fourth place with less than 4 percent of support. He has been a national and local legislator in the state of Nuevo Leon, where he ran for the PRI. In 2009 he became the mayor of Nuevo Leon, also with the PRI. In 2014 he left the party to run for governor as an independent.     

El Bronco is running on an anti-political party platform. According to him, Mexico’s problems stem from the corrupt politicians that have ruled the country. During the first presidential debate, he proposed to chop-off the hands of corrupt politicians.

In May, he was fined by Mexico’s electoral body for raising US$700,000 in illicit campaign funds.

To battle growing insecurity, he has proposed the creation of a cyber police under the presidency and militarized prep schools.

On the economic front, El Bronco proposed to lower taxes on consumption and income taxes to reactivate the economy.

He has also vowed to end all forms of government assistance to low-income families.

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