In theory the National Elections Institute (INE) has a tight grip on the bridles of would-be presidential candidates for the 2018 Mexican presidential election.
In practice, the “hold your horses” theory is not working well with National Regeneration Party (Morena) leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who for two years has been using the advertising budget of Morena to promote his 2018 candidacy.
Other parties see this with deep concern because they are operating according to the loose set of regulations INE imposes on the 10 existing political parties. And at this time the names of a few would be hopefuls are listed like that of Interior secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) or that of former first ladies (yes, the former first lady for president syndrome has hit Mexico too) like Margarita Zavala of the National Action Party (PAN) ring a bell, but they are not officially nominated by their parties.
On the contrary, AMLO is currently leading all polls regarding the next president of Mexico; his constant campaigning on television from where he is constantly messing up the well-groomed tuft of President Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI.
Last week PRI leader Manlio Fabio Beltrones sued AMLO and Morena for running an ad in which AMLO criticizes the president for having gone ahead with the purchase of a 787 Boeing jetliner that cost the nation nearly 700 billion pesos.
“When Morena reaches the presidency in 2018, we will sell the plane to use it for better purposes and not to entertain 180 of the president’s buddies,” AMLO said in the presidential image damaging ad.
PRI’s Beltrones sued against the ad at the Federal Electoral Tribunal (Trife) and won the suit as the Trife ordered Morena to stop airing the ad and issued an order to all broadcasters to stop it within legal time, which is 24 hours after receiving the mandate.
Reaction from Morena was immediate claiming that Trife was a group of puppets under the command of Manlio Fabio Beltrones, who for the first time named AMLO by name and not by the monikers “The Messiah” or “The Patriarch” which are so often slapped on AMLO particularly by PRI oriented media.
Morena claims that there is no “legal impediment” to air such an ad which is only aimed at saving the nation some money and that the President could use a more modest air transport for his traveling duties.
Virgilio Caballero, a deputy for Morena says that at the PRI the real concern is not just salvaging the battered image of the president but also because, to start with, they have no candidate for president in 2018 and secondly, AMLO is currently leading in all polls.
If we look back, there’s some truth in the Morena accusation as back in 2009, it was clear that Enrique Peña Nieto, then governor of the State of Mexico, was to be the most likely candidate. It’s not the case nowadays as Osorio Chong says he’s busy being the interior secretary, not a candidate in campaign.
Surely Morena is going to appeal the Trife decision all the way up from a local court to the Inter American Human Rights Commission, should that be necessary.
At AMLO’s former organization, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), the attitude is that the Trife decision is “in the right direction” because AMLO used the airliner spots “for political advantage” against other potential contenders in 2018.
But that particular ad was only one. Expect AMLO to come up with yet another PRI and President Peña Nieto scathing ad which is something he has the right to do, no matter how much the PRI payola cranking press admonishes his “ill behavior.”