During the second week of October, the President Elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador continued his thank you tour meeting with citizens all over the country talking about how his policies will help their lives. Part of the week he traveled through the southern states where he met once again with the governors of those states to discuss the project of the Mayan train. It was there that he continued to discuss the potential benefits but dismissed criticisms that people that question the project have raised regarding to the fact that the new Mexico City’s airport project (which is 30% already built) will have to be approved by a citizen referendum while this one will not. In a move very similar to the current administration, he complained about how people complain too much about his policies when he has not even taken office.
On the Mexico City airport matter, part of his cabinet members released a report showcasing the potential benefits of the Santa Lucía military base option that has been presented as an alternative to the new one being built in Texcoco. They indicated that on Monday October 15th, the information about the citizen referendum and its question would be revealed.
Meanwhile, during the other part of the week, AMLO exposed several ideas that sparked debate among political pundits in news analysis programs and op-eds. First of all, he said that it is more important to transform the country than to simulate fighting corruption by pursuing corrupt political figures. He indicated that his spending-cuts policies and furthering an honest way of managing the government will do more to fight corruption than the former option. This made opposing figures question the authenticity of his fight against corruption and the promises he did during his campaign (and since many years ago). Second of all, the President Elect said that starting with his administration no wage increase would be able to be below the official inflation levels for the year. This would be done through a new law that would prohibit employers from raising their worker’s salaries below inflation levels, raising eyebrows among the more orthodox economic pundits that believe this could potentially increase inflation.
It must be noted that despite some controversy that may originate around abnormal behavior by members of Congress (i.e. last week a Federal Deputy from the Morena party was involved in a late night crash and an explosion that killed the taxi driver with which the Congressman crashed into), matters in Congress have little importance in Mexican politics unless directed by the Executive power. In Mexico, most policies and new bills are presented by the Executive power (introduced through some member of Congress from the President’s party) and rarely are initiated by members of Congress, specially opposition party members. The huge attention that the President centers ‘distracts’ Congress from being more proactive in setting the political agenda, despite the number of bills that can be presented in Congress. So even though the Chamber of Deputies is discussing AMLO’s first budget bill, this rarely makes headlines or sparks debates in op-eds. Nevertheless, the contents of this bill will be very relevant to see what kind of government AMLO may have and the things he wants to pursue during his first year in office.
The first part of the first week of the month of October centered around the signing of the new trade agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The three countries were able to strike a deal in time (auto-imposed deadline of September 30th) in order to have President Peña Nieto sign the agreement before his departure November 30th. On behalf of the new Mexican government, future Foreign Relations Secretary, Marcelo Ebrard, released a statement in which he said that the new administration was happy with the outcome as it would allow the Mexican economy to face much less uncertainty. Later that week, President Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador indicated that he especially liked that the USMCA had mechanisms that would allow Mexican workers salaries to grow in the manufacturing sector, especially in the automobile industry where the U.S. and Canada had made an important point to produce 40% of vehicles where wages were $16 USD/hour. Additionally, he said that the new agreement did not interfere with Mexico’s sovereignty and rights to determine what to do with its natural resources (i.e. oil and gas) thanks to what his chief negotiator, Jesus Seade, had negotiated with the other countries. In reality, this is much more of a talking point to appease his electoral base as there was never an intention from Mexico’s northern neighbors to limit the country’s right to do so. But since the 2013 Energy Reform opened the sector to private investment, there are many Mexicans that thought that the USMCA would strip Mexico of its resources or make it easier for U.S. and Canadian firms to secure our oil fields thanks to the rhetoric spread by some left-wing politicians during the election process.
Continuing with the topic of oil and gas, during a visit to the state of Guanajuato, AMLO announced an investment of $4 billion pesos (~$210 million USD) to rehabilitate the Salamanca refinery located within the state. This is part of a broader strategy his government plans to implement regarding Mexican refineries. During his campaign, the President Elect criticized the amount of fuel that Mexico imports from U.S. refineries located in Texas and Louisiana as it has driven fuel prices in Mexico upwards due to the rise in the exchange rate since Trump became a candidate (the Mexican peso – U.S. dollar exchange rate passed from about 15.5 pesos/dollar to around 19 pesos/dollar with a high of 22 pesos/dollar just before Trump took office). One of his proposals was to rehabilitate and build new refineries in the country to avoid importing fuel –a proposal battered by critics saying that building new refineries is very costly and with their low margins, they require very efficient operations, something Pemex and its labor union have never been good at. Furthermore, in a visit to the state of San Luis Potosi, he said that his government would not allow new fracking activities to protect the environment.
On another topic, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Tlatelolco Square massacre from October 2nd, 1968 (where the President ordered the military and police forces to open fire on students protesting the Mexican government’s lack of democratic processes right before the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games), President Elect Lopez Obrador swore he would never use law-enforcement officials to hurt civilians as well as promising that all people in jail for political reasons would be liberated the first day of his government.
However, the topic that created more controversy during the week came in the later days when the future head of the Science and Technology National Council (CONACYT for its initials in Spanish), Maria Elena Alvarez, ordered the current government officials to halt any new scholarships and grants that would be given to people in 2019, as the cuts in government spending ordered by the new administration demanded so. She sent a letter to the current head Enrique Cabrero saying so that got leaked to the press resulting in a social media backlash. Many of the Mexican students abroad (doing graduate programs) and the non-profit organizations that research science related topics could be left without funding if what Mrs. Alvarez ordered was true, so the future Mexican government faced an outcry that was fueled by opposition figures that found it easy to pile on the bad idea of cutting spending on science and technology. In a statement released later by Mrs. Alvarez, she explained that her letter only meant for the cutting of funds for scholarships or grants not previously assigned, but the hostile tone of it did not help her cause as the damage was done.
The month of October has arrived with a new North America Free Trade Agreement deal being agreed to by Mexico, the United States and Canada that will be henceforth known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Both the current and upcoming governments in Mexico wanted to strike a deal with its northern neighbors because the elimination of NAFTA would have been a catastrophic outcome for the Mexican economy. The details of the agreement have just been released so more information will be included in next week’s transition recap.
Meanwhile, in domestic affairs, the week revolved around the announcement of who would chair each of the different committees in both houses of Congress. Social media outcry appeared once it was announced that legislators from the disappeared ultra-conservative Social Encounter Party (PES) would preside over particular committees like health, education, culture and sports. To many liberals, having Evangelists control these committees was outrageous and to many of Lopez Obrador’s critics, it was just another example of how incongruent his government could be. This situation, forced the governing coalition to shift who received these committees, putting Morena legislators as the chairs of them replacing the PES legislators. This in turn, made people like former telenovela star and stripper Deputy Sergio Mayer (Morena) the head of the culture committee, situation he announced in a misspelled tweet.
Regarding AMLO’s agenda, he continues visiting different cities on his “thank you tour”, stopping by the state of Tlaxcala and indicating that the first department to relocate will be the Culture Department. During the election campaign, AMLO promised he would aid Mexican decentralization by moving the different departments that compose the Executive branch to other states rather than all of them being in Mexico City. This is one of his most criticized proposals as it implies a ton of hidden costs that his team seems to not be considering, to the point that criticisms had made the future government silent on the issue for several weeks, but reigniting debate once he announced in Tlaxcala that the Culture Department would be the first to move in 2019.
During the week, AMLO promised to parents of the disappeared student-teachers from Ayotzinapa that his government would create a special committee to get to the truth of what happened four years ago with them. On the anniversary of their abduction, President Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said that institutions must be strengthened to prevent this situation from happening again and suggested that he would invite international human rights organizations to aid in the clarification of the disappearance of those 43 student-teachers. He promised that from now on, the Government Department (of the Interior) would be an institution tasked with governance and furthering human rights and not spying on people as it happened during Peña Nieto’s administration (according to the New York Times).
On other stops of his tour, AMLO reiterated his proposal to give scholarships to young people without a job as part of training programs while also emphasizing the role that sports could play in receiving those grants while visiting the Mexican Olympic Committee. He said his government would allocate 5 billion pesos (~263 million USD) to give 2.6 million sports related scholarships. Later on, when visiting the state of Hidalgo, he spoke once again about reinvigorating Mexico’s energy sector (mainly speaking about Pemex rather than the entire energy sector) by investing 70 billion pesos (~3.7 billion USD) in the reconfiguration of the Tula refinery in that state.
 Note: The Social Encounter Party lost its ability to compete in federal level elections last July 1st as it did not reach the 3% of the vote threshold so legislators that won single member plurality districts have a seat in Congress but are independent. However, as the PES was part of AMLO’s coalition, those legislators are acting in tandem with Morena and its allies in the different legislative negotiations.
During the third week of September, President Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador continued his “thank you tour”, doubling down on the idea that he has to implement swift changes in many different areas in order to correct all the problems that the market-oriented (“neoliberal” as he calls them) policies created. Despite many opposition figures (particularly from the still incumbent PRI party) in Congress arguing that Mexico is not bankrupt, AMLO suggested that over the last 35 years “Mexico has not grown, poverty has increased and the government’s debt is tenfold what it was with (President) Fox (2000)” among other things. In addition he said during a visit to the state of Baja California Sur that all new mining projects would be reviewed by the people through a referendum, in order to know if the firm responsible for it would receive permission to operate.
The week started with the continuing debate regarding if Mexico is bankrupt. Opposition figures in Congress and more right-wing leaning political pundits argued that the President Elect is misguiding Mexicans by telling them that the country is bankrupt. They indicated that public debt is stable and has been recuperating over the last two years and Mexico has had macroeconomic stability during most of the years AMLO referred to (1982 – 2018). Recognizing that the country still has a lot to do (average growth has been only 1.3% and poverty rates have decreased only a couple of percentages still ranging in the 40 to 50 percent), the country is in much better shape than what AMLO suggests. The proof is that financial institutions and credit rating agencies are optimistic and confident on the country’s economy as a whole, as Mexico’s country risk measure and credit rating are in good levels.
Meanwhile, Morena party leaders seconded President Elect López Obrador indicating that there are no resources to pay for many of AMLO’s proposals thanks to how the current and past administrations have acquired debt (over the last 18 years it has increased tenfold over President Fox, Calderon and Peña Nieto administrations). Let’s remember that AMLO has been going around the country thanking people for their vote and promising different social programs that will aide them that all are government spending. He has planned to pay for much of this by slashing the salaries of all officials in the Mexican government (starting with the Executive branch but through Congress making it extensive to other branches and government institutions) and eliminating corruption. However, it is still unclear if they will be able to liberate all the resources they think they can with these measures increasing tensions in Congress during the crafting process of the budget (where majority party Morena is trying to accommodate sufficient resources for all of the things they promised they would do).
On another note, during AMLO’s “thank you tour” he has been meeting with the different governors (and governors elect) of the different states of the country. In particular, in a visit to the Baja California peninsula, he first reiterated to the people of Ensenada, Baja California, the creation of a “free trade zone” in the Mexican border (that has been detailed before), but when visiting La Paz, Baja California Sur, he told supporters at a rally that it would be the people deciding on the approval of new mining projects. He said that from now on his government would only give permission to operate to new mining projects if the people decided to do so through a referendum.
In the second week of September, President Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, met with most of the governors in the country, with the families of victims of Mexico’s criminal struggles, further explained his ‘Mayan train’ infrastructure project and his ‘young people for the future’ program (that addresses the needs of young Mexicans that are not studying and don’t have a job, the so called ‘ninis’) and signaled that he would do his best to fulfill all his promises despite receiving a ‘bankrupt’ country.
The week started with AMLO giving more details on the ‘Mayan train’ infrastructure project he will build. It will have a little bit more than 1,500 kms (~937 miles) of railways crossing the 5 states of the Yucatán peninsula and 17 stops. During the presentation, his team further discussed the connecting infrastructure the train will have linking it to airports and transportation systems in those cities as to maximize tourism attraction.
Afterwards on Tuesday and Wednesday, López Obrador met with the 6 governors from the Mexican side of the U.S. border to outline his policy of creating a free-trade zone within 30 kms (~19 miles) of the entire Mexico – U.S. border where value added taxes will be half of what they are nationally, income tax will be reduced and fuel and electricity prices will be subsidized in order to compensate firms for the costs of increasing workers’ wages. One of his campaign promises was to increase wages for many of the workers in Mexico while still remaining competitive vis-à-vis our trading partners. Later on, he met with another 7 governors to discuss his plans on different social development programs and particular policies that may be relevant to their specific states.
On Thursday September 13th, on the 171st anniversary of the Battle of the Chapultepec Castle where young Mexican soldiers tried to repel the American invasion in the outskirts of then Mexico City during the Mexican American War of 1846 – 1847, the President Elect explained some of the details of his main program targeting young people. To address the issue of the unemployment of ‘ninis’, he said his government will grant $2,400 pesos (~$126 USD) monthly scholarships to help pay for college tuitions and $3,600 pesos (~$190 USD) monthly stipends to young Mexicans that are receiving training programs within firms. He then explained more details on the eligibility process for this program and its phases.
Finally, after the Mexican Independence celebration, and as part of his “thank you” tour around the country, AMLO promised that he would attempt to fulfill all of his promises despite the fact that the previous administrations are leaving the country in ‘shambles and bankrupt’. Despite this claim being false, he said that during the era of the market-oriented policies (what he and critics of this time call the ‘neoliberal era’) the country stagnated and that if there were issues with rising interest rates and inflation during his government it would not be his fault but rather the guilt of Mexico’s Central Bank (one of the only real autonomous institutions in the country).
In the first week of September, President Elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, met with business chambers in the state of Nuevo León, a group of governors and appointed several new officials.
On Monday September 3rd, 2018 he announced that former Electoral Crimes Prosecutor Santiago Nieto would become the next head of the Financial Intelligence Unit at the Finance Secretary. This unit is in charge of investigating tax evasion and related crimes. Mr. Nieto received ample support from civil society organizations a year ago when he was strangely fired from his office (within the Attorney General’s Office) because he was investigating electoral crimes related to the Odebrecht scandal, where Brazilian firm supposedly bribed then Pemex head Emilio Lozoya to gain favors in the Peña Nieto administration.
Then, the President Elect announced the three Undersecretaries for the Secretary of the Economy (the Mexican equivalent to the Department of Commerce). First, trade expert Luz María de la Mora was appointed Undersecretary of Foreign Trade, while Mr. Francisco Quiroga will be in charge of the Undersecretary of Mining and Mr. Ernesto Acevedo will be the new Undersecretary of Industry and Commerce.
By midweek, AMLO traveled north to the border state of Nuevo León where he met with former presidential candidate, Governor Jaime Rodríguez ‘The Bronco’ and business chambers from that state to discuss how he plans to redirect resources towards investment projects (mainly infrastructure) and not to current expenses. He also met with the federal deputies from the Morena party (that control slightly over 50% of the Lower Chamber) to outline his policy priorities for the upcoming legislative period. Afterwards, he met with business chambers from the southern states of the country to discuss how he plans to highly invest in oil exploration infrastructure for Pemex to ‘rescue’ the energy sector from its current state.
On Friday September 7th, the office of the President Elect informed that a young political scientist, Carlos Martínez, would become the head of the National Institute for Worker’s Housing, the biggest real-estate player in the country. It must be noted that the President Elect had previously informed that Juan Carlos Zentella was going to hold this position but his office gave no reason for the change.
By the weekend, AMLO held a meeting with the governors (and some governor-elect) of the southeastern states of the country (Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatán) to discuss his plans of creating the ‘Maya train’ –that will cross the entire Yucatán peninsula attempting to bring tourism from Cancun and the Mayan Riviera to other nearby states.
by Miguel Toro
The President Elect's transition period has been like no other before in recent history. Since the days of President Carlos Salinas and then President Elect Ernesto Zedillo in the mid 90s, no winning government had had as much support in the polls -for the Executive and Legislative branches -than this one. The very strong position that President Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador obtained in Congress (where he has majority on both chambers) gave him great leverage to further his agenda since day 1 of the transition period. Instead of waiting for the newly government to be installed in December 1st, he started operating as if he already was in office.
Since the first week, AMLO started nominating the different people that would become Mexico's new Undersecretaries and high-level officials. It must be noted, that the great majority of his Cabinet members had been announced since the beginning of his precampaign in December of last year, except for a newly appointed Foreign Relations Secretary, where former Mayor of Mexico City and AMLO’s successor, Marcelo Ebrard got appointed. For a full list of AMLO’s cabinet (updated weekly with the new appointees) you can click here.
To inform of his designations for these positions, AMLO would hold a press conference on the street, at the steps of what was his campaign headquarters, instructing these new officials about policy issues he wanted addressed right away. In some occasions this involved taking matters to Congress, lobbying for things that would be actually discussed in the chambers until the new Congressmen and Congresswomen took office on Spetember 1st, while at other times, it involved setting up events that looked like official government events. One of these was the debate tables set up with local officials regarding the security situation throughout the country. The combination of these things completely took away the media and the people's attention to still President Enrique Peña. Outside of the continuing NAFTA negotiations, the current government became utterly irrelevant.
Since his days as Mayor of Mexico City - where he would hold a press conference at 6 am explaining things he would do or wanted addressed -AMLO has been a master at controlling the media's coverage and the political agenda. Now as President Elect, he has repeated this process (albeit with 2 pm press conferences) and with it pushed policy decisions for which he is legally not able to do. For example, after a very dubious study on the ability of the Santa Lucia military airbase to become Mexico City's second airport, he decided he would honor one of his campaign promises and hold out a national referendum asking whether the construction of the new Mexico City airport should continue or be changed to keeping the old one and creating a second one in Santa Lucia (with around a 100 billion peso loss for the government due to already having around 30% of the new airport being built in Texcoco). Not only he has no authority to hold this referendum, he said it will be held on October 28th, 35 days before he actually takes office. This casts many doubts in the validity of this referendum and also questions what kind of bias can be introduced in the process when he will decide the people organizing the entire survey.
In a similar matter, since mid July, the President Elect ordered his future Cabinet members to organize concurrently with local-level officials a series of public debate tables regarding the insecurity of the country. The objective is to explore ideas of specific policies to be implemented in each place to try and improve the security situation of those people. The first of these of events garnered important media attention –mainly because he attended the first one in the border city of Ciudad Juárez –but then got shadowed by all of the other activities the President Elect is doing.
An area where Mr. López Obrador’s transition team has paid great attention in these months has been foreign relations. Not only did AMLO’s designated Chief Negotiatior, Jesús Seade, participate in the NAFTA renegotiation talks with the Mexican team, but also Mexico’s next Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard has been very active linking the next President with other governments. For example, they received a big delegation from the United States that came to visit them that included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Then, AMLO exchanged letters with President Trump indicating his stance on different policy issues and how they could work together in the future. Furthermore, he also received Canada’s Foreign Minister and NAFTA Chief Negotiator Chrystina Freeland as well as Guatemala President Jimmy Morales in meetings in the following weeks. In October, Marcelo Ebrard will visit Japan to meet up with the CEOs of various Japanese firms and explain them some incentives AMLO’s government will offer to counteract some of the worse economic conditions for investment in Mexico created by the new NAFTA deal negotiated with Trump’s administration.
In the NAFTA front, as was mentioned above, Jesús Seade was inside the negotiation rooms with the Mexican team transmitting the future government’s position on the multiple issues, in particular in the energy sector where AMLO has been traditionally opposed to market liberalization and investment from private firms. According to the Wall Street Journal, AMLO was not very happy with the inclusion of the energy chapter in the NAFTA renegotiation, but the U.S. was very firm in its interest in that chapter, and from what has been revealed of the U.S. – Mexico deal agreed last August 27th, the energy chapter stayed as it had been negotiated by the current Mexico government. Additionally, Marcelo Ebrard announced they saw they agreement as a positive step to reducing economic uncertainty in Mexico due to the renegotiation process as well as a good sign regarding Mexican worker salaries and trilateral dispute settlements. After the deal had been announced, Ebrard also met with the ambassadors of around 20 countries who are Mexican trade partners (mainly from the Asia-Pacific region) telling them that Mexico wants to deepen trade relations with them as a way of diversifying investment risk due to the U.S. government.
Finally, with the beginning of the new Congress this September the 1st, it is expected that the budget negotiations clearly indicate AMLO’s policy preferences and agenda as he has sufficient votes to approve the budget without any negotiation with opposition parties. It is still unclear how many of the different changes he wants to implement will be pushed through Congress this quarter, but it may show how they will interact with the opposition parties regarding funding for States with non-Morena party governors.
 Since 2014 there is a huge new airport being constructed outside of the city in the municipality of Texcoco that has been criticized by AMLO and his supporters for being full of fraudulent and corrupt contracts with government-preferred construction firms
 Binding national referendums have to be ordered by Congress but more importantly they must be organized by the National Electoral Institute concurrent with Federal-level elections.
Last Sunday was Mexico’s biggest election in history. More than 3 thousand 416 positions were up for grabs, ranging from President of Mexico to thousands of local officials. Left-wing Morena is the big winner of this year as third time was the charm: former Mexico City mayor and party founder, Andrés Manuel López Obrador finally won the presidency and did so in a landslide. But his momentum carried on towards the other elections as his coalition obtained around 62% of the Chamber of Deputies and 53% of the Senate and 5 of the 9 gubernatorial races, including Mexico City, that were up for grabs this day. They exceeded every expectation of their performance and combined with the defeat of the other parties, represents the most significant political realignment in Mexico since 1988.
Mexican presidential results (according to the Preliminary Electoral Results Program (PREP))
Third time was the charm for AMLO
Source: National Electoral Institute
While Morena was the main victor of this election, the center PRI was the great loser. They lost at least the 3 governorships they controlled that were up for election this year, were reduced from being the biggest party in Congress to the fourth with historically low number of seats and they also lost the presidency. No matter what their candidate, José Antonio Meade, attempted, his candidacy never took off. Maimed by the toxicity of president Peña Nieto and the PRI brand, Meade could not overcome the Morena challenge and showcased the PRI’s worst lost in history.
Chamber of Deputies results (according to the PREP)
The Morena coalition (Morena + PT + ES) is very close to supermajority
Source: Own elaboration with data from the National Electoral Institute
Senate results (according to the PREP)
AMLO's coalition (Morena + PT + ES) also controls the Senate
Source: Own elaboration with data from the National Electoral Institute
The other loser from Sunday's election is the Frente coalition. As you may recall, this coalition was built by right-wing PAN and left-wing PRD and Citizens’ Movement Party. It must be noted that the performance of each of these 3 parties is different. While Citizens’ Movement party undoubtedly won by obtaining its first governorship in the state of Jalisco with Enrique Alfaro, the PAN could barely hold on to the states they controlled that were up for election and could never oppose AMLO in the presidential race, and the PRD is but a shadow of what it was before when powerful figures like Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas or López Obrador lead them. The PRD lost 3 of its governorships to Morena (including Mexico City) and got reduced to a small party in Congress.
Governorships by party (starting Sept. 1st, 2018)
AMLO will be the president with less governor support
Source: Own elaboration with data from the National Electoral Institute
Even though Morena was the big winner of the night with the presidency, the majority in Congress, 5 out of 9 governorship races available and holds a majority in 19 out of the 32 states legislatures, AMLO will still face important opposition, particularly through the state governors where his party will control only 5 of the 32 states, making him the President with less governor support in history. The PRI and the PAN will hold each 12 states, while Citizens’ Movement holds Jalisco, Jaime Rodriguez “The Bronco” governs Nuevo Leon and the PRD still holds Michoacán, although technically its governor, Silvano Aureoles, is going to be expelled from the PRD because he supported PRI candidate José Antonio Meade during the election process. However, it will be interesting the dynamics many of these governors will face now that 19 state legislatures have Morena majority opening up the door for within-state opposition, something that had been mostly absent from the Mexican democracy since divided government started appearing in the early 90s.
Election day is in 3 days and today was the last day of the campaigns. From now on, public events are prohibited for all the candidates running for office in this election and all the last election polls are in. Based on that information, left-wing Morena is poised to be the great winner this Sunday. Not only is its presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador a front-runner with a comfortable lead (a 22 percentage point lead in effective vote in the average of the Oraculus.mx “poll of polls” which takes undecided and non-responsive voters out of the sample of each survey) against his closest competition Frente coalition (right-wing PAN, left-wing PRD and Citizens’ Movement Party) candidate, Ricardo Anaya, but it is likely they’ll win 5 out of the 9 governor races this year and be the biggest party in both Chambers of Congress. According to recent polls Berumen, Reforma and El Financiero newspapers, and Consulta Mitofsky, left-wing Morena will definitely win the gubernatorial races of Chiapas, Tabasco, Morelos and crown jewel of Mexico City and may have a real shot in both Puebla and Veracruz. Furthermore, it is estimated the Lopez Obrador’s coalition (left-wing Morena, Maoist-almost-communist Labor Party and Evangelical Social Encounter Party) will have a majority of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and be in the high 40 percents in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the right-wing PAN will probably remain the second strongest political force in the country with around 20% in both chambers of Congress and around 12 governorships (out of 32), while the incumbent party, the PRI, will probably face a historic defeat in which it will be reduced to around 15% of both chambers of Congress and have around 13 governorships, the least it has controlled in history.
Figure 1 shows the final “poll of polls” data for the presidential race. With this data, Oraculus.mx indicates that AMLO has a higher than 99% of winning the presidency this Sunday.
Figure 1. Final 'Poll of Polls' (up to June 27th, 2018)
Lopez Obrador is poised to win the presidency
The results of this weekend's election may prove to be a paradigm shift in Mexico's political spectrum, but beyond the compelling evidence presented in the multiple election surveys, there is still the sensation that election fraud is possible in the country. Mexico's extensive vote buying and clientelism will be on display this Sunday as all the political parties blur the lines between getting-the-vote-out activities and illegally buying them. Yesterday Tuesday June 26th, two people were arrested in Mexico City that were transporting 20 million pesos in cash (around 1 million US dollars) towards the PRI's headquarters. Furthermore, PRI supporters and members are really confident they will win the Presidential election. It may seem unreasonable boasts of confidence that they have to show in order to not disheartened their supporters, but it may also signal an extensive clientelistic operation for which the PRI has been known for throughout history. It must be noted that not only the PRI incurs in these types of activities, but all parties that control different governments at the state and local level. So even if vote buying is not sufficient to overcome such a big difference in the presidential race, it may be a decisive factor in very contested elections such as the Puebla, Veracruz and Yucatan governor races.
On Monday we'll know what proved to be more important in voters' minds.
Two weeks away from election day, the race has entered a period of scattered attention from Mexican voters. After the final debate last Tuesday June 12th, most people are talking about the soccer World Cup –especially after Mexico’s astonishing victory over favorites-to-win and defending champions Germany. So despite having tons of political ads during the games, they will most likely have a reduced effect as the election is not perceived to be contested. As of today, left-wing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador is ahead of the polls with 49% of effective voting intentions in Oraculus.mx’s “poll of polls”. This represents a 21 percentage point lead over runner-up Frente (PAN + PRD + Citizens’ Movement Party) candidate Ricardo Anaya and 29 percentage point advantage over incumbent party PRI candidate José Antonio Meade. AMLO sits comfortably at the lead with a 94% probability of winning the presidency.
Figure 1. Poll of Polls (up to June 18th, 2018)
Lopez Obrador’s continues to grow 2 week away from election day
But the main thing that happened last week was the third and final debate where the presidential candidates discussed about their economic platforms through segments that involved education, health, poverty alleviation and sustainable development policies. It was a typical Mexican debate in which there were more attacks between the candidates than actual detailed proposals, but in general it seemed that José Antonio Meade showed more expertise answering the questions and explaining how he would implement solutions, while front-runner AMLO responded saying that corruption was the root of all of the problems and by solving it (through his mere presence in power) his policies would actually have an impact on Mexican wellness. Meanwhile, Ricardo Anaya had to counterattack the accusations made by government and PRI officials that he is corrupt after the leaked video framing him. If you want to hear a much greater explanation of the debate, you can listen to our latest episode of the “Expert Take” podcast where a panel of experts dives into each topic.
The other interesting element that occurred during last week was the big survey from Berumen that was paid by the Mexican Republic Patron Confederation (COPARMEX). This was a massive survey of more than 13 thousand interviews that analyzed each of the main races in this election process. Their results confirmed the standings and overall margins for the presidential race, while also giving further detail into the Congressional elections and the 9 governorship races. With respect to the Congressional races, in the Chamber of Deputies they show that left-wing Morena is headed to be the biggest party with over 40% of the seats. In conjunction with the Labor Party (PT) and the Evangelical Social Encounter Party (PES) which conform AMLO’s coalition, they are set to hold a majority in Congress. Meanwhile in a distant second place will be the right-wing PAN and further down the incumbent party PRI. The complete distribution of lower house seats can be seen in Figure 2.
In the Senate, Morena is also poised to be the biggest party being very close to holding on its own majority. As with the Chamber of Deputies, PAN and PRI are distant second and third places.
Figure 2. Chamber of Deputies seats by party
Lopez Obrador’s coalition has a good chance of having majority
Source: Own elaboration with data from the Coparmex sponsored survey
Figure 3. Senate seats by party
Lopez Obrador will only need a couple of seats to secure a majority
Source: Own elaboration with data from the Coparmex sponsored survey
With respect to the governor races, 6 out of the 9 elections will be won with ample margins, while there are 3 contested elections. Morena party will win the governorships of Chiapas, Mexico City, Morelos and Tabasco, while the PAN will win continue its almost 30 year government in the state of Guanajuato and Citizen’s Movement party will win the state of Jalisco (whose capital is Guadalajara, second most populated city in Mexico). The races in Puebla, Veracruz and Yucatan are still a toss-up where Morena is trying to edge out the PAN in Puebla and Veracruz and the PRI has the lead in Yucatan followed closely by both PAN and Morena. But regardless of how these races turn out, it can be expected that the great winner of this election will be AMLO who is receiving a substantial amount of votes for his party in the most important races.
 The numbers on the Congressional races have raised some eyebrows as they seem to be undercutting some of the small party’s percentages. For example, it seems that Citizen’s Movement party (Movimiento Ciudadano) will most likely have at least the 2 majority rule senators from the state of Jalisco as their governor candidate, Enrique Alfaro, will most likely win the election with ease (as their own survey shows). Based on the fact that Mexicans tend to not divide up their votes, if MC controls the Jalisco governorship, it will most likely also have their 2 senators.