Leftist holds lead after Mexican presidential debate

Not even a scratch suffered AMLO by his rivals in Mexico’s presidential election who’s polling 44.3 per cent, about 15 points above second place

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Mayo 21, 2018 16:55 hrs.
Política Internacional › México
Jude Webber / Financial Times › Emmanuel Ameth Noticias

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leftist frontrunner in Mexico’s July 1 election, traded insults with his closest rival, conservative Ricardo Anaya in a second presidential election debate but analysts saw little to change the current standings.

Mr Anaya, who is widely hailed as laser sharp, hit out at Mr López Obrador in debate focusing on foreign policy and migration, saying that ’the problem is that your ideas are very old … the problem is not that you don’t speak English. The problem is that you don’t understand the world’.

Mr López Obrador (pictured), who is polling 41.5-46.7 per cent support in his third bid for the presidency according to a poll of polls by election site Oraculus.mx, compared with 26.7-31.4 per cent for Mr Anaya, shrugged off the criticism. ’Smile, we’re going to win,’ he said, after earlier branding Mr Anaya ’Ricky Rich’ and saying he was going to protect his wallet as his rival moved too close.

Sergio Aguayo, a political analyst, tweeted: ’They attacked each other but without doing irreparable damage. A technical draw. I don’t think this will change voting intentions.’

’This debate is unlikely to move the polls a great deal,’ echoed Duncan Wood, head of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Centre, also on Twitter.

José Antonio Meade, for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, who is trailing in a distant third place, had a stronger performance that in the first debate a month ago but few expect him to be able to make up the ground needed to be a real contender in the race. Jaime Rodríguez, an independent, was typically provocative but has single digit support only.

The candidates failed to explain, in concrete terms, how they would make Donald Trump respect Mexico but both Mr López Obrador and Mr Anaya concurred that Mexico would have little moral authority on the migrant issue unless it put its own house in better order.

Mr López Obrador, reverting to his hobby horse, said the problem was government corruption while Mr Anaya said Mexico needed to put ’everything on the table’ in talks with the US – a reference to security cooperation, which many see as Mexico’s trump card in the bilateral relationship.

Mr López Obrador spooks many voters who fear that he will turn the clock back, ideologically, to the 1970s, with his stated plans to curb imports and make Mexico self-sufficient in food and energy. Mr Anaya played up those fears, telling him: ’You need to get up to date.’ Mr López Obrador, meanwhile, maintained that the ’best foreign policy is domestic policy’, urging economic growth to create jobs.

The leftist reiterated his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he said it looked like it would fall to his government to negotiate.

He said an updated pact should contain a kind of Alliance for Progress with Central America – a reference to John F. Kennedy’s policy towards Latin America in the 1960s – and should contain a component on wages. The US wants as much as 40 per cent of cars in the region to be made in places where wages are $16 an hour, more than double the prevailing rate in the industry in Mexico.

He also said he had asked Alicia Bárcena, current head of the UN’s economic body for Latin America, Eclac, to be his ambassador to the UN. It was not clear whether she had accepted.


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