Just as the U.S. primary season seems to begin earlier each cycle, the rumour mill surrounding potential Mexican presidential candidates has begun in full. Given that it is a full 30 months before the 2018 election, the discussions seem limited to political observers, pollsters, and the backroom party operatives. Mexico’s leading pollster – Consulta Mitofski offers weekly public polling on approval and favourability for a variety of public officials. If you speak Spanish, you can find the full set of tables on their site here.
The PAN – Mexico’s ‘conservative party’, compared to the CDU in Germany. The party has retained much of its regional strength build during the democratic transition in the 90s, despite a weakening national brand associated with the unpopular war run by Calderon. The front runners for the PAN nomination are younger, and would assume the presidency before turning 50.
Rafeal Moreno Valle: Former deputy, senator and now current governor of Puebla. The first non-PRI governor of the state, winning in 2011, an extraordinarily weak year for the PAN. His grandfather served as a senior minister in the government of Diaz Ordaz. He has drawn the ire of bodies such as UNESCO following the destruction of historic sites in Puebla. Like many, he has been accused of supporting excessive force by police and security organizations.
Margarita Zavala: Devout catholic, deputy for the PAN from 2003 to 2006. First lady to Felipe Calderon, only wife of a President to have served in congress. Zavala announced her desire to run for president in June 2015, a full three years ahead of the vote. Even during the later parts of her husband’s presidency, Zavala enjoyed considerable personal popularity. She has not confirmed whether she would stand for the PAN nomination, and many speculate that she may run as an independent, drawing on PAN support, and other voters outside the traditional coalition.
AMLO – Morena
What to say about AMLO? Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been a staple of Mexican politics since the PRD first broke off from the PRI as the Corrientes Democratica in 1987. AMLO has run for president twice, in 2006 and 2012 under the PRD banner, but left the PRD shortly after to start the National Regeneration Movement, a new party controlled by him and his close associates. AMLO came within a whisker of winning the 2006 presidential election against Felipe Calderon amid complaints of widespread electoral fraud. After losing again in 2012, critics within the party called for a renewal in the party’s leadership – a point many believe resulted in his decision to leave and found Morena. AMLO still enjoys broad personal popularity & name recognition, and remains a reasonably potent political force, regardless of his chosen affiliation.
Miguel Angel Mancera – PRD
The loss of party heavy weights Cuauhtamec Cardenos & AMLO’s has left many questioning the viability of the PRD. Describing the state of the party, TV host Pedro Ferriz de Con asked ‘will the last member to leave, please turn out the lights’? Despite the bitter break with AMLO and the fight with Moreno for voters on the left, the PRD still remains a potent electoral force in many parts of the country. Current Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancero has been touted as the likely PRD presidential candidate. His term has not been without controversy, but has achieved notable reductions in the crime rate, while revitalizing downtrodden boroughs. While not officially tied to the PRD, if Mancera does run for president, it is expected that he do so under the PRD banner.
Jaime Rodriguez – El Bronco
The shift away from the three traditional parties in the 2015 midterm elections resulted in the election Mexico’s first independent governor. Nuevo Leon put Jaime ‘El Bronco’ Rodriguez in office with almost 50% of the total votes cast. The rise of maverick candidates and the splintering of the party system means that populist candidates like Bronco may be more common in the coming election cycles. Bronco has survived two assassination attempts by the cartels, and has pledged to stamp out corruption within the state. His popularity has spread beyond his home state, and his no-nonsense style makes him a potential dark horse contender for the 2018 election.