Mexican political parties held closing ceremonies for their pre-campaigns Sunday night ahead of the country’s general elections in June.
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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the poll-leading candidate for the “Together We Will Make History” coalition, spoke to at least 20,000 people in Guadalajara, the capital city of Jalisco. His coalition includes the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), the party he founded in 2014, the Social Encounter Party, PES, and the Workers’ Party, PT.
“I won’t betray the people,” said Lopez Obrador. “I have three guiding principles: not to lie, not to rob, not to betray the people.”
His main proposal is to end corruption, something he has promised since his first campaign in 2006. “We will end corruption in Mexico like sweeping stairs, from the top to the bottom,” he said during his closing event. Numerous polls give him a wide popularity margin.
The second most popular candidate is Ricardo Anaya, the former president of the right-wing National Action Party, or PAN. After an internal dispute with Margarita Zavala, wife of former President Felipe Calderon, Anaya nominated himself as internal candidate for his party, which caused internal divisions.
In his closing event in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Anaya also pronounced himself against corruption and said he was in a “technical tie” with Lopez Obrador in the preliminary polls. His supporting party coalition, “To the Front for Mexico,” includes his National Action Party and his rival’s former Democratic Revolution Party, which nominated Lopez Obrador during the 2006 and 2012 elections. He has promised a “Universal Basic Income” for the unemployed.
Jose Antonio Meade, the proposed candidate by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, closed his precampaing in Tlalnepantla, in the State of Mexico, a notorious PRI stronghold. He is being presented as a “neutral” technocrat candidate, as he doesn’t belong to the PRI and has worked for other parties. He was nominated for the “All For Mexico” coalition, which includes the PRI and two smaller parties considered its satellite parties: the New Alliance and the Green Party.
Meade is the third most popular candidate and has also promised to fight corruption. In the current administration, seven state governors from the PRI have been accused and charged of corruption, money laundering, embezzlement and other crimes. Some of them were freed, others are in prison, and one, the former governor of Chihuahua Cesar Duarte, is currently fugitive.
What is a pre-campaign?
The National Electoral Institute, INE, allows parties to start a “pre-campaign” term to promote internal candidates to be the definite candidate for president.
The pre-campaign period officially started on Dec. 14, 2017. From that time onward, parties and coalitions were allotted 30 minutes daily for radio and TV propaganda. They can’t call for a vote or promote their candidates as actual presidential candidates, given that they are still supposed to be “precandidates.”
This made sense when parties used to propose two or three “pre-candidates” for their internal contests. Now, all three major coalitions have proposed only one candidate and used the pre-campaign period to start their campaigns early.
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Sunday was the last day of this period, with “pre-candidates” now required to keep a low profile until the actual campaign period begins on March 30.
They are expected to be officially registered as candidates during this month if the parties and coalitions decide on them.
This is the first time Mexican presidential elections will allow “independent” candidates. In order to appear on the ballot, aspiring candidates need to get 866,000 signatures in at least 17 states before Feb. 18. The INE launched an app to gather the signatures and allowed them on paper where internet is not available.
Jaime Rodriguez Calderon, a former member of the PRI and governor of Nuevo Leon, Margarita Zavala, wife of former President Felipe Calderon and Armando Rios Piter have gotten the necessary signatures. So far, only Zavala has claimed the 17-state requirement.
Last year, the National Indigenous Congress, CNI, proposed Maria de Jesus Patricio Martinez as the spokeswoman for the new Indigenous Government Council, CIG, and presidential candidate. She has no promises and her only proposal is to listen and spread voices of resistance against capitalism. She enjoys popularity, but she’s most likely not going to make it to the ballots.
Independent candidates don’t receive pre-campaign benefits.