Leftist makes gains in polls in second bid for Mexico’s presidency

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Left-leaning candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is climbing back into the limelight in Mexico, where a late bump in the polls has boosted his stature before the nation’s July 1 presidential election.

The former Mexico City mayor and staunch advocate of greater government transparency nearly brought Mexico to its knees with protests six years ago after he lost a hotly contested presidential election to Felipe Calderon.

Mr. Calderon is barred by the Mexican Constitution from seeking a second term. Should a standoff be looming this time around, it would most likely result be between Mr. Lopez Obrador and centrist front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto.

Analysts say a stalemate is unlikely because Mr. Pena Nieto, 45, still enjoys a large lead over Mr. Lopez Obrador, 59, and Mexican leftists are unlikely to enter the streets for a candidate who’s efforts fell short in 2006.

“It’s unlikely that Lopez Obrador is going to find the same support that he did the last time, and there are two reasons why,” said Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

“One is that the electoral institute overseeing the voting is more credible this time around,” Mr. Selee said. “The other is that if he loses, many people on the left will see him as the past and not the future of their movement.”

The most recent polls posted by Mexican newspapers have Mr. Pena Nieto carrying 42 percent of the vote - a double-digit lead over Mr. Lopez Obrador, who, at 28 percent, is tied with Josefina Vazquez Mota, the first major female presidential candidate in Mexico.

Mr. Selee acknowledged Mr. Lopez Obrador “could conceivably have hidden supporters out there that we don’t know about,” a possibility some on the left are pinning their hopes on.

Cristina Sada Salinas, a Lopez Obrador supporter and a candidate for the Mexican Senate from the northern state of Nuevo Leon, said, “He’s the only one rising.”

“Everybody else is, how do you say, free falling,” said Mrs. Salinas, who added that a close vote will lead to the same kind of “civil resistance” from Lopez Obrador supporters that gripped the country six years ago.

“I’ll be a part of it,” she said.

Mexico City has long been a stamping ground for his Democratic Revolution Party. Large student demonstrations there last month triggered a fresh wave of media attention for the Lopez Obrador camp.

The rallies began with a YouTube video that went viral in early May, accusing the nation’s media of excessive and unfairly positive treatment to Mr. Pena Nieto. The video featured 131 former university students voicing frustration at coverage of the front-runner.

Young protesters haven taken to the streets bearing signs that read, “Yo Soy 132,” meaning “I am number 132,” a reference to the solidarity with those who posted the video.

Mr. Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI by its Spanish initials, meanwhile, has long been accused of engaging in crony capitalism and corruption during a reign over the Mexican presidency throughout much of the 20th century.

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About the Author
Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.

His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.

Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...

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