Magazine article SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico

Independent Candidates Could Be a Factor in 2016 Gubernatorial Races, 2018 Presidential Elections

Magazine article SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico

Independent Candidates Could Be a Factor in 2016 Gubernatorial Races, 2018 Presidential Elections

Article excerpt

Public opinion polls in Mexico show that many voters view the established political parties with suspicion and are favoring unaffiliated or independent candidates. The trend is similar to the United States, where candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders--who have labeled themselves as outsiders--have obtained support from large numbers of voters during primary elections. The Mexican presidential election is still two years away, but the antipathy to the established parties-particularly to President Enrique Pena Nieto's governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI)--might manifest itself in the 12 gubernatorial races that are scheduled for June.

A public opinion poll conducted by the respected polling company Consulta Mitofsky revealed that one in three people surveyed does not identify with any of the political parties. The poll was conducted between Feb. 12 and Feb. 14 among 1,000 registered voters nationwide.

Many respondents said they would support an independent candidate over a candidate from one of the smaller parties. A total of 3% of respondents expressed preference for an independent candidate in the 2018 presidential elections. In contrast, highly identifiable small parties--the Partido Verde Ecologista de Mexico (PVEM) and the Movimiento Ciudadano (MC)--each received only 2% support, while the Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL) only obtained 1%.Among the established parties, 22% of respondents identified themselves with the PRI, 15% with the conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN), 10% with the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD), and 8% with Movimiento Regeneracion Nacional (Morena), a party created by two-time presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mitofsky pointed out that the level of identification was very close between the PRD and Morena, which could foreshadow a competition between the two parties for the voters who identify themselves with the left.

Still, according to the Mitofsky poll, all parties had a higher percentage of rejection than support. The level of rejection was 43% for the PRI, 36% for the PAN, 35% for the PRD, and 32% for Morena.

"The preferences for Morena were fairly even among demographic groups," Mitofsky said. "In contrast, others, like the PRD and the PRI, showed weakness among youth, which offered the greatest support for independents."

Nuevo Leon governor mentioned as possible candidate

Among potential independent candidates, one of the most identifiable names is Jaime Rodriguez, nicknamed "El Bronco," who was elected without party affiliation as governor of Nuevo Leon in June 2015. Rodriguez defeated Ivonne Alvarez of the PRI and Felipe de Jesus Cantu of the PAN in that election (SourceMex, June 24, 2015).

The Mitofsky poll did not ask about any specific independent candidates, but a separate survey conducted by the polling organization Buendia & Laredo found strong support for Rodriguez, Juan Ramon de la Fuente (the former rector of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM), and Jorge Castaneda Gutman (foreign relations secretary during the Vicente Fox administration). The face-to-face poll was conducted between Feb. 26 and March 2 among 990 respondents.

Buendia & Laredo also asked those interviewed about their opinion of the political parties. The unfavorable/very unfavorable ratings were strong for all parties: 54% for the PRI, 30% for the PAN, 32% for the PRD, and 21% for Morena. However, the unfavorable rating for Morena was balanced by a 26% favorable/very favorable rating.

The poll also served to identify potential frontrunners for each party. Among supporters of the PRI, the most popular candidate was current Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong. …

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