May 13, 2021

Latam

MEXICO: Rattled AMLO intensifies electoral attacks

BY Nicholas Watson

Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on reddit

Listen to our reports with a personalized podcasts through your Amazon Alexa or Apple devices audio translated into several languages

( 3 mins)

With just three and a half weeks to go before the 6 June “mega-elections,” which involve the lower house mid-term vote, 15 state gubernatorial elections, and a host of state assembly and municipal ballots, the campaign is heating up. This week, the gubernatorial election in Nuevo Leon state has been in the limelight.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) on 11 May expressed his satisfaction with the National Prosecutor’s Office (FGR)’s move to investigate two opposition gubernatorial candidates who are leading the polls in Nuevo Leon: Samuel Garcia of Movimiento Ciudadano (MC) and Adrian de la Garza of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Garcia is being probed over possible illegal campaign financing, while the investigation against de la Garza centers on vote-buying allegations. AMLO’s intervention appears designed to boost his gubernatorial candidate in the state, Clara Luz Flores, who languishes in a distant third place.

The misuse of the FGR (or its predecessor body) by a sitting president is nothing new in the Mexican context. Nor is the use of gift cards or similar vote-buying strategies. What is striking is that AMLO has resorted to the very same tactic that he has repeatedly denounced as typical of what he calls the PRIAN (an amalgam of the PRI and the National Action Party (PAN)), or the “mafia of power.” Nor is it at all clear that intervening in the Nuevo Leon election will benefit Flores, whose links to the imprisoned US cult leader Keith Raniere have torpedoed her chances.

For AMLO to take this step therefore smacks of, if not desperation, then deep frustration. This in turn reflects several recent setbacks for AMLO. These include the damage caused by AMLO’s dogged support for Felix Salgado Macedonio as gubernatorial candidate for Guerrero state despite accusations of rape and sexual assault against him; though Salgado is now off the ballot, his daughter has substituted him, provoking anger within the party. The party’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against a Morena lower house deputy, Saul Huerta, has been similarly bungling. Most importantly, the deadly Line 12 metro accident in Mexico City has been deeply damaging since it involves two high-profile AMLO lieutenants, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, under whose mayoralty Line 12 was built.

Even before the Line 12 accident, polls suggested support for both AMLO and Morena was slipping. One recent poll indicates that AMLO’s approval ratings have dropped to their lowest level since last October (though they remain relatively high at 57%). Meanwhile, support for Morena – which tracks lower than AMLO’s approval ratings – has also dipped, with another poll suggesting the combined votes for the PRI, PAN, and Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) is now just ahead of Morena; recall that the PRI, PAN, and PRD are running in alliance in some states. State polling may be flawed but some state races do look more competitive than they appeared a few weeks ago. As for the mid-terms, a two-thirds majority for Morena looks increasingly out of reach.

The question is if AMLO’s meddling – together with his constant campaign of denigration against the National Electoral Institute (INE) – is part of a bare-knuckle, dirty election campaign or whether it opens the door to a challenge against the Nuevo Leon election and further action against the INE. Note that AMLO does not accept defeat easily.

More by

LATAM: Pandemic status and outlook

( 6 mins) Covid-19 caseloads have been dropping across Latin America and the Caribbean in recent weeks. During October, South America has accounted for under 6% of new global daily cases versus 35-40% in June. The improving picture

Read More »

LATAM PULSE

( 5 mins) This week, Chile marks two years since the outbreak of protests just as the constituent assembly born out of that unrest starts to debate the content of a new constitution. In Peru, a new stage

Read More »

LATAM PULSE

( 4 mins) This week, Chile‘s President Sebastian Pinera faces a bumpy ride as he seeks to defend himself from allegations arising from the “Pandora Papers” leak; at the same time, another presidential debate takes place later today.

Read More »

LATAM PULSE

( 5 mins) This week, Mexico‘s electricity sector counter-reforms are in the legislature, where they could muffle recent speculation about the battle to eventually succeed President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Political tensions in Peru are rising. In

Read More »

PERU: Contradictions and confusion

( 3 mins) Prime Minister Guido Bellido’s threat to nationalize the consortium that operates the Camisea natural gas field unless it agrees to pay higher taxes is unsettling – though not for what might seem the most obvious

Read More »

LATAM PULSE

( 5 mins) This week, Peru‘s government is in another muddle of its own making – this time over a threat to nationalize natural gas resources – while Congress will keep the Pedro Castillo administration on the backfoot.

Read More »