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Opinion
Ricardo Castillo
Ricardo Castillo Presidential Deck Shuffle The PRI is the leading political power in the nation as it boasts a sure 25 percent of the vote
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Presidential election spec is a wonderful game for Mexicans. Many a politician dismisses the spec as premature pipe dreaming as the next election will be in 2018.

Yet, time flies and for most political parties planning for the future is a must if they want to win and stay alive in the splintered vote scenario the current Mexican democratic system represents.

Also, there are many hopefuls who’d like a shot at the Big Chair, also known as “La Grande,” and if they want a crop, they’d better start tilling the land now and that’s just what both individuals and political parties are doing right now.

The upcoming June 5 election in 13 states — 12 for state governors — represents a wonderful opportunity for party leaders to look at different options for the future. There will also be another election in June 2017 prior to the presidential election, but pragmatists that politicians are, they stick their attention in the present to forge the future.

What’s most notable in the current electoral process is the joint venture between conservative National Action Party (PAN) and leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), which are backing different candidates proposed by one or the other in different states, noticeably in Puebla, Oaxaca and Veracruz, where they have a great likelihood to win. The two party leaders are Ricardo Anaya and Agustín Basave, respectively, and both know the electoral process is full of incongruences such as having President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) recriminate the PAN-PRD current alliance as lacking credibility because of the ideological differences between the two parties.

Yet party leader Manlio Fabio Beltrones is on the attack and afraid that he may lose some of the elections for governor to this cursed duo. Beltrones, in accusing them of whatever — in politics you can accuse foes of anything you want and get away with it — their objective, as smaller parties than the PRI, is to join forces to diminish the PRI’s regional power and clear the path for the 2018 presidential race.

Currently, the PRI governs 10 of the 12 states and as far as many observers are concerned, “these elections will be a great suffrage in favor or against the PRI.” Political researcher of the Latin American School for Social Sciences Nicolás Lazo also thinks this is true.

“State elections previous to presidential ones will give a good profile of the political operations each party arrives at the presidential process,” he said.

But one thing are the political parties and something else the individuals who will be the main performers during the 2018 process.

According to many polls, some of this potential vote is already playing up a role in defining the shape of things to come.

Definitely, the PRI is the leading political power in the nation as it boasts a sure 25 percent of the vote.

But to contradict PRI leader Beltrones, if it wants to keep the presidency it will have to rely in the vote of a group of three small parties that are apparently receiving subsidies from the PRI to sell their votes to them.

These “PRI cronies” are the Green Party (PVEM), which has allied with the PRI for several elections now. Also Nueva Alianza or New Alliance (PANAL) as well as Social Encounter (PES) have joined up with PRI and together they come up with about 32 percent of the total national vote. Not much, but enough to win an election.

As for candidates, there are names in the PRI who are seen with potential, including Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong. Others such José Antonio Meade of the Social Development Secretariat (Sedesol) and Public Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño may also toss their hat into the PRI ring.

If elections were to be held nowadays for sure — according to current polls which of course have no validity — the winner would be Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party. López Obrador has been twice runner up in the 2006 and 2012 elections and he claims that “the third time is the good one.” (If not, I must add, if you strike thrice you’re out.) But for sure, of all potential hopefuls, López Obrador is one we will for sure see in the ballots in 2018.

For PAN there are two potential candidates. One is former first lady Margarita Zavala, a lawyer and career PAN politician. The other is current PAN president Ricardo Anaya.

A problem with Margarita Zavala is not so much her, but her husband former President Felipe Calderón, who for sure is a minus for her candidacy. But she seems to be willing to compete against Ricardo Anaya. According to pollster Parametría, they are tied inside party preferences.

Others ringing the bell are independent candidates, namely current Nuevo León Gov. Jaime Rodríguez, nicknamed “El Bronco” for his coarse but direct speech. There is also former Foreign Relations Secretary Jorge Castañeda, who just Sunday demanded from “El Bronco” to define whether he’s going to run as an independent candidate or not. If not, clear the way, Castañeda says.

Those are some of the names that “sound loud” (“suenan fuerte,” in Mexican political cant) to be presidential candidates.

At this point, the chips may not be down but surely the presidential card deck is being shuffled in voters’ minds.

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