By RICARDO CASTILLO
It’s been more than one month of presidential electoral campaign and about the only thing that is certain is that the political trend of the candidates has not budged. But now voters are busy again as the campaigns for Congress, nine state governors and municipal mayors officially kicked off on April 28, so expect that the publicity lambasting of voters will only increase.
As for the presidential campaign, the reality is that it is only one third down the time span and for sure the intensity will work its way into a fast and furious pace for the month of June. But as of now, there are many questions that take the shape of gossip and fake news which, although they may not be factual, pundits are talking about them.
The top theme on the rumor section of the political trending topics list is that President Enrique Peña Nieto may be mediating talks between candidates Ricardo Anaya and Jose Antonio Meade to come up with a unity party as the only way to beat frontrunner Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) come election day on July 1.
Both Anaya and Meade vehemently deny any contact with President Peña. Anaya says that even if contacted, he would decline any proposal from the government and Meade just last week said this was all a made up conjecture by commentators and that he “will sweat out the jersey all the way to the election.”
This version of the news insists that at the president’s Institutional Revolutionary Party there is a rebellion for the blunder committed by Peña Nieto in “imposing” the candidacy of a non-partisan independent who has been running in third place since last December and does not seem to be “picking up speed.”
The fact is that Anaya is pretty much in a similar boat if we go by the polls. Both Anaya and Meade have trailed AMLO all the way by a hefty distance ranging from as much as 20 points by Anaya and 28 points by Meade. With these numbers, about the only thing waiting for these two hopefuls is defeat even if Anaya claims on a daily basis that he will surmount and Meade claims he’ll “pitch strike three” to AMLO – both baseball buffs – very soon.
Whether there is a “convenience unity” or not remains to be seen, and pundits can claim that both may say no, but in the end if Peña Nieto sticks his fingers into the fray, a suspicious unity may arise that would eventually put together all the anti-AMLO vote.
Ah, but to do this there is one small catch. It must be done now since today, Sunday, May 6, is the deadline to make any changes in candidacies. The reason is a practical one because on May 7 the National Electoral Institute (INE) will begin printing the voting ballots that will have to be fully distributed by election day. Printing and then distribution logistics for a nationwide effort for sure takes time.
Another issue that has irritated voters is that the Senate “sat” on a piece of legislation first promoted by Meade and approved by the Chamber of Deputies doing away with official impunity – “fuero” in Spanish – a right all elected officials enjoy in the nation. In short, they cannot be accused in a court of law of any wrongdoing, unless Congress strips them of their impunity.
That is bad for Meade. It became clear that his own PRI majority in the Senate impeded any advance on the unanimously approved bill sent by the House of Deputies. Much todo was made about doing away with impunity, but having the president’s political party “freeze” the bill looked suspicious to many a political observer because those who stand to lose the most are PRI members themselves, as they are the target of corruption accusations. In particular, it would hit Peña Nieto, who candidate Anaya says he will put in jail for all “the theft” he has carried out and allowed in the past six years. Fortunately for the PRI, the regular period of Congress ended on April 30 leaving the doing away with the “fuero” issue in limbo and far from the electoral fray. Maybe the issue will be revisited in the next Congress, due to be sworn in next Sept. 1.
Beyond the federal (presidential and congressional) elections, the campaigns for nine state governors have kicked off, and there will be municipal and congressional elections in 10 of the nation’s 32 states, adding the number of participating contenders to literally thousands of candidates. As of now, Mexico is in a two-month long state of “political wars” that will come to an end, as stipulated by the INE, on June 27, when there’s a four-day calm before the July 1 electoral storm.