Political anxiety is an ill advisor. In Mexico, there are many people speculating who will be the potential contenders for the 2018 presidential election, but regarding anxiety, electoral reality is here to cool everyone off.
Party leaders are aware that the most important thing in Mexican elections is timing, and that’s what they are doing.
Regardless of what’s known as “futurism,” about the only valid political reality is for the upcoming June 4 elections for governor in three different states of Coahuila, Nayarit and State of Mexico. The National Electoral Institute has established March 3 for all contending parties to register their candidates.
And though the three state elections are important — in particular for the people of each of the states — there is no question as to the political truism that the salient election will be that of the State of Mexico (Edo-Mex for short) for more than one reason.
First, the State of Mexico, an area that surrounds Mexico City, is very much a part of the 23 million strong metropolitan area and garners the largest amount of votes in the nation. But it also has a hefty rural area, not to mention capital city Toluca. Whichever way it goes will be an indicator of how the people might vote in the 2018 presidential election, as the state on the whole boasts circa 12 million votes.
Just as important is that the State of Mexico has forever been a power bastion for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has governed the state since PRI was founded back in 1929. It is home to the mighty powerhouse political organization known as “Grupo Atlacomulco” which is one of the most influential PRI state bastions in the nation.
But surely everything is unpredictable in the 2017 election, as for the first time in history PRI is being seriously challenged by other political partie, because PRI has registered as its sole hopeful candidate Alfredo del Mazo Maza, a person who is known in political circles to be a burnt out bullet shell.
Namely, the National Action Party (PAN) is trying to post a very strong candidate and the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) has already posted the candidacy of a popular local lady politician, Delfina Gómez Álvarez. Another potential powerful contender might emerge from the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD.)
A valid question to ask is why would PRI be challenged in a state where it has never lost and other parties have not even come close to PRI’s previous voting power?
And the answer is … President Enrique Peña Nieto. He is the worst threat to the State of Mexico PRI in this time and age.
The reasons are many. First, Edo-Mex served to catapult Peña Nieto to the presidency of Mexico back in 2010. That in theory should be on his side, but his distraught performance at the helm of the nation after four years is, frankly, eroded.
In fact, after the 2012 election he was not greatly popular but managed to win with a not so comfortable 38 percent of the vote. His replacement at Edo-Mex was popular mayor Eruviel Ávila Villegas, who in 2011 swept the elections.
A big problem his appointed candidate Alfredo del Mazo Maza will face during his upcoming campaign will be that he is Peña Nieto’s blood cousin and these are moments in which nepotism is seen with a sour face by all Mexicans. Yet during the PRI’s state registration for governor a week ago, Alfredo del Mazo was the only registered candidate. Up until then there were several other bona fide Edo-Mex politicos eager to contend, such as Senator Ana Lilia Herrera, a highly popular would-be candidate. But suffice it to say that when registration time came, Del Mazo was the sole registered potential candidate.
Did Peña Nieto have a say on this? Well, suffice it to say that he is the top leader of the ancient political machine known as PRI and indeed, was I a PRI member, particularly in Edo-Mex, I would not challenge his pick for candidate. It’d mean political death.
But unquestionably Peña Nieto is extremely worried that his cousin Alfredo may lose the election. Last January 20 he met with PAN President Ricardo Anaya and they discussed posting former PAN presidential candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota as candidate. PAN is pondering this option as she might just beat Alfredo del Mazo. In that meeting with Anaya, Peña Nieto was quoted as saying he’d be happy with either his cousin or Josefina winning the election. Anything will be better for PRI and PAN leaders than having a candidate of left wing populist-party Morena win Edo-Mex.
After this current challenge, PRI will have to go all out to win the presidency again. Everyone is telling Peña Nieto that his stance opposing the imposition behavior of U.S. President Donald Trump won him the support of the nation, because Mexicans place nationalism before party lines. But that did not mean he gained popularity or the people’s sympathy. He continues to be an unpopular president, and the proof of the pudding is that those supporting his anti-Trump posture are still out on the streets protesting his nefarious fuel price hikes.
That pretty much outlines the shape of things to come for the 2018 presidential elections, where the general consensus is that Peña Nieto’s PRI will be ousted from power.
Again, whatever is said about the upcoming elections, both in Edo-Mex in 2017 and the presidential ones in 2018, is pure speculation, but this is how things stand one month before the three states in contention kick off their electoral campaigns on March 3.
Till then there are a lot of loose ends and doubts, except for the fact that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s unpopularity ratings put a PRI victory even in Peña’s own turf, Edo-Mex, very much in doubt.