Mexico: Leftist front-runner in July 1 vote polling at 52%

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The centre-left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (or AMLO, as he is commonly known) has widened his lead and is now 26 points ahead of his nearest rival, the right-wing Ricardo Anaya, for the upcoming July 1 presidential elections in Mexico.

In an opinion poll carried out by the popular newspaper Reforma, the candidate and head of the National Renewal Movement (Morena) got 52% of the vote intention.

The same poll showed that Morena will probably be the biggest minority in the House of Representatives, polling at 42%.

AMLO has a history of clashing with business leaders and his opponents repeatedly painted him as a threat to Mexico’s economic stability during his previous two runs at the presidency.

This time he has managed to appease some of the country's economic elite, adopting a more liberal program. In spite of this, a great part of the ruling business class still opposes him.

An open letter by billionaire German Larrea, published on May 29, refers indirectly to AMLO, who has accused Larrea of belonging to a group of tycoons seeking to thwart democracy and keep him from power. Larrea warned about the risk of Mexico adopting policies similar to Venezuela, Cuba or the former Soviet Union if AMLO wins.

“If this populist economic model, in which everything supposedly belongs to and comes from the state, and in which people are given things without working for them, ends up being imposed on Mexico, investment will be disincentivised, seriously affecting jobs and the economy,” it said.

The letter by Larrea, who was Mexico’s second-richest man in the 2018 Forbes List, did not mention AMLO by name, but made reference to his candidacy and some of his more contentious proposals, including threats to roll back the government’s opening of the oil and gas sector to private investment, and to scrap a 2012-13 education reform.

AMLO is an advocate of the Mexican model pursued during a period of rapid growth between the 1950s and 1970s, when the state played a bigger role in the economy.

But he has also moderated his economic rhetoric and said in May that a US$13 billion airport project he long opposed could be built as a private concession. “I understand that German Larrea doesn’t want change, because he’s done very well,” Lopez Obrador said.

Such commitments with the Mexican elite have cost AMLO a lot of support from more left-leaning voters, but the lack of another real alternative to the establishment parties keeps him in the lead.

Anaya came second in Reforma's poll, as head of the coalition between the right-wing hardliner National Action Party (PAN) and the centre-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Citizen Movement (MC), losing about 4 points since the last poll. He is sitting on 26% of the vote intention.

Both the PRD and the MC supported AMLO in the 2012 presidential campaign, but distanced themselves from him after he split with more moderate sectors of the parties.

Meanwhile, the candidate of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Jose Antonio Meade, is trembling in third place, with 19% of the vote intention.

This is the first opinion poll carried by Reforma, a rather pro-establishment publication, since the second presidential candidates debate on May 20, in which AMLO said that he would like to have a friendly and not submissive relationship with the government in Washington, warning that US President Donald Trump “will have to learn how to respect” Mexicans.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]