News World Mexico elections look set to put firebrand favourite on a collision course with Trump

Mexico elections look set to put firebrand favourite on a collision course with Trump

Mexico's presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, at a rally in Mexico City. Photo: Getty
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Eighty-eight million registered Mexican voters are heading to the polls in its July 1 national election in a united front against, violence, corruption, inequality – and US President Donald Trump.

The favourite to replace unpopular, right wing incumbent President Enrique Peña Nieto is firebrand left-wing populist, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known by his initials, AMLO.

AMLO is a member of the National Regeneration Movement, or the Morena party, and has led the polls by a large margin for the last three months.

Mr López Obrador is 20 to 30 percentage points ahead of his closest rival, pointing to a landslide win and making him potentially the first leftist leader in charge of Mexico in decades.

A poll released last Sunday by Mexico City-based Consulta Mitofsky showed Obrador with a 37.7 per cent voter support, while conservative National Action Party candidate Ricardo Anaya and Jose Antonio Meade from the incumbent Institutional Revolutionary Party gathered 20 per cent and 17.7 per cent respectively.

Born into a working-class family in the southeastern state of Tobasco, Mr López Obrador promises to end corruption and appeals to el pueblo, or ordinary people of Mexico.

He plans to offer an amnesty to drug cartel members, roll back the hike in gas prices after the deregulation of the energy sector, double pensions and decrease the cost of education.

The former mayor of Mexico City and third-time presidential candidate has also not shied away from standing up to corruption in the Mexican political sphere and the influence of the Trump administration which he has slammed in his book, Oye Trump.

“Trump and his advisers speak of the Mexicans the way Hitler and the Nazis referred to the Jews, just before undertaking the infamous persecution and the abominable extermination,” Mr López Obrador wrote.

But the 64-year-old frontrunner’s Mexico-first rhetoric has prompted political critics to find an eerie likeness with the US president.

Mr Trump and Mr López Obrador are both known to lash out at their critics and perceived enemies and each is stridently suspicious of the press and checks on their power.

“A sense of nationalism and nostalgia for a long past are central to their platforms and appeal,” The New York Times writer Azam Ahmed wrote.

Mexico has a presidential election every six years, with more than 3400 seats at local and state level, including 128 senators and 500 members of the Chambers of Deputies.

The campaign cycle has been plagued by scandal and murder, with the assassinations of 132 political figures since September, including nearly 50 candidates, according to one study.

Independent election observers have also accused Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party of using legal institutions to wield influence over the election.

The party reportedly included hiring Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct British firm that used private Facebook user data in Mr Trump’s campaign.

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