Thursday, February 2, 2012

As PAN primary campaign winds down, López Obrador says he'll hug the bad guys

Presidential contest field will be narrowed to three on Sunday, February 5

Of Mexico's three major political parties, only one -- the National Action Party (PAN) -- has not yet selected it's 2012 presidential standard bearer. It will do so this Sunday, Feb. 5. The primary is an internal survey of registered party members, not an election open to the general public.

Unless something changes drastically in the next 72 hours, the PAN choice will be Josefina Vázquez Mota. A late January poll showed her with a commanding 60% support, compared to opponents Santiago Creel with 26%, and Ernesto Cordero far back in third place with just 10%. Vázquez Mota, who turned 51 last month, will become Mexico's first female presidential candidate if she captures the PAN nomination.

[Update: A Milenio network poll released late this evening showed Vázquez Mota with 52% support, Santiago Creel with 23% and Ernesto Cordero with 21.5%. There has been some movement, especially upward by Cordero, but not enough to affect the outcome.]

The three PAN candidates held only two hour-long debates, the first on Jan. 17 and the second two days ago, on Jan.31. Very little substantive content was delivered by any of them, especially during Monday evening's final event. The format was simplistic, with the three candidates and a moderator/interviewer seated around a conference table. The debates were televised nationally, but there were no live audiences.

Perhaps predictably, both Creel and Cordero were in attack mode, and those attacks were plainly focused on the front-runner. Cordero particularly took Vázquez Mota to task for her poor attendance and voting record as a representative in the country's lower legislative body, Mexico's Cámara de Diputados, repeatedly reading aloud detailed statistics on her frequent absences. They appeared not to faze Mota in the least, and they probably had little impact on the PAN faithful either.

Santiago Creel, as he did in the first debate, emphasized that he would build upon Felipe Calderón's National Security Strategy (the 62 month old anti-drug cartel war launched in December 2006), but said that he would implement "innovative new strategies" to win that war. The problem is, Creel never gets around to telling us anything about what those new strategies might be.

For her part, Vázquez Mota said the she and all members of "her team" would soon be submitting to toxicology tests and polygraphs, to prove that they're free from narco crime influences. If only we could persuade all U.S. politicians to blow into that little tube, and take a lie detector test . . .

An economist by training, Mota frequently says, "Yes, I understand economics, but what I really understand are the Mexican people." Vázquez Mota repeated recent promises that she would deal harshly with political corruption by pushing for life imprisonment for convicted office holders, as well as the complete repeal of Mexico's historic fuero, a type of legislative immunity which has often been used by crooked politicians to evade justice. (

Ernesto Cordero -- a former secretary of the Hacienda, Mexico's I.R.S. and budget office combined -- again emphasized bread and butter issues. He seeks to distinguish himself from his two opponents by drawing upon his business experience at the Hacienda. "I'm ready to be the pilot to get the Mexican people safely to their destination," Cordero is fond of saying. "How can these other two do it, in these turbulent economic times, when they've never had their hands on the controls?"

But in comments today which show that she is surely confident of a big win on Sunday, Vázquez Mota said that PAN must look beyond the primary and prepare for the real fight just ahead. "This election will decide what kind of a country we're going to live in for a long time," noted Vázquez Mota in January. "We can't permit a return to PRI authoritarian rule, nor to PRD populism." "PRD populism" is a clear reference to the leftist politics of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (below). But everyone knows that Vázquez Mota's real target these days is Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, whose election it is to lose. Peña Nieto has consistently topped all Mexican presidential preference surveys since January 2011, generally polling anywhere from 40-50% when compared to Vázquez Mota and López Obrador.

Gustavo Madero, PAN's national chairman, predicted that up to 400,000 party members would turn out for the Feb. 5 internal balloting. He said preliminary results should be ready by about 10:00 p.m. that day. Mexico will hold its general election and pick a successor to president Felipe Calderón on Sunday, July 1.

A note on Andrés Manuel López Obrador:
Ever the populist, while campaigning on Tuesday (Jan. 31) the PRD candidate said that Mexico's drug war agony cannot be won at the point of a gun alone. Sticking to familiar themes, López Obrador argued that poverty, unemployment, the disintegration of the family and the loss of traditional values must all be addressed as part of a comprehensive national anti-drug strategy. "The problem of crime will not be resolved by more violence, militarization, jails or harsher laws." I happen to agree with López Obrador on those points. But then he carried his logic one step too far: "Abrazos, no balazos" -- "Hugs, not bullets." I'm just not sure Los Zetas are ready to be snuggled to death.

Related posts:

Josefina Vázquez Mota continues polling strong:
PAN candidates agree on one thing - PRI must be stopped:
López Obrador promises "New Deal" plan with seven million jobs in first year:
PRI and PRD both offer "a chicken in every pot":
Will Manuel López Obrador be the party spoiler?:


  1. There's a mistake in the post. Over the past 20 years there have been other female presidential candidates, none of them from the 3 big parties but indeed registered. One is Patricia Mercado and another is Cecilia Soto. Please make a research before making a false statement.

  2. No, it's not a "false statement." Read this post, where I explain the details which apparently trouble you: (as of today it's in the most popular column on the right, but you missed it, obviously). As a technical matter, there have been something on the order of 15 women presidential candidates in the history of Mexico -- all of them advanced by petty, insignificant parties which had utterly no chance of winning. Josefina is the first female candidate who DOES have a very real chance of winning, because she is the standard bearer of a major party, PAN. Everybody understands that -- everybody but you, I guess -- when they commonly refer to Josefina as the "first."

    Thanks for writing, and I hope this comforts you. Next time tell us who you are, so we can connect a name to the subliminal hostility.

  3. Oh, one other thing I neglected to mention.

    Just so you'll know, it's not proper English to say "make a research." One MAKES a bed, a chocolate pie or a change in their life (if they're frustrated with the way it's going, for instance). One DOES research, however (better yet, "conducts" research).

    Perhaps you're a student of English, or perhaps it's your native language. Either way, I hope this point will help you in future communications.