Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mexican politics

Left in the lurch

Mexico’s divided leftist party has chosen a veteran radical as its presidential candidate. Will he pull it out of its hole, or dig it in deeper?

ON A quiet street in central Mexico City is a bright-yellow building claiming to be the headquarters of the “Legitimate Government of Mexico”. This curious outfit is run by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a charismatic leftist who narrowly lost the presidential election of 2006, which he believes was fraudulent. In the weeks after the election his followers brought the capital to a standstill with a protest that inspired millions of Mexicans and infuriated millions more. Mr López Obrador, known to friends and foes alike as AMLO, is still a polarising figure. His party’s decision on November 15th to select him again as its candidate in next year’s presidential race added uncertainty to the contest and to the party’s own future.

Mr López Obrador began the 2006 campaign as the favourite. This time, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), under whose banner he will run again, languishes a distant third. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000, leads the pack and looks set to return under the slick candidacy of Enrique Peña Nieto, a former governor of Mexico’s most populous state. The ruling centre-right National Action Party (PAN) of Felipe Calderón is clinging on to second place, buffeted by soaring crime and a subdued economy.

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