On September 15, 2005, the Mexico Institute hosted a breakfast discussion with Ignacio Marván, professor at CIDE and an advisor to presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He spoke on the state of the Mexican political system and the role of the PRD in the upcoming July 2006 elections.

Marván began by challenging the popular assumption that Mexican citizens are disillusioned with their country's politics. It is not the Mexican political system that is weak, he argued, but rather the state of country's economic and social conditions. Marván noted that support of the political system is still strong, and 90% of the population aligns itself with one of the three national political parties. He suggested that the true problem facing Mexico is a nationwide crisis of public security and a lack of economic growth that has led to increased inequality. Marván also noted that narcotrafficking has become a serious national concern.

Marván offered an analysis of the primary elections in the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). With regard to the PAN, he noted that former Interior Secretary Santiago Creel's failure to win the first round of the PAN primaries resulted from a poorly led campaign that lacked groundwork. He further observed that the triumph of the former Secretary of Energy, Felipe Calderón, raises two important questions for the general election: first, will Caldrón lose Creel's votes, and second, will he pick up votes from PRD candidate López Obrador?

Marván critiqued the two principal Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidates. He explained that both former Tabasco Governor, Roberto Madrazo, as well as former Governor of the State of Mexico, Arturo Montiel, are perceived by many to be corrupt, and reflect the party's failure to produce high level leadership. Marván predicted that if Madrazo is chosen as party candidate then Elba Esther Gordillo, head of the National Teachers Union (SNTE), is likely to leave the party.

Marván also addressed the campaign of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) currently underway. Although much work has already been accomplished through the selection and backing of PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he emphasized that the fight is only now beginning. He noted that the party needs to build a civic network throughout the country, as well as a series of alliances with smaller parties. López Obrador's success depends on creating a structure that reaches out to independent voters as well as PRD supporters. Although he acknowledged that there is no certainty that López Obrador will win in July of 2006, he appears to be so far ahead of the other candidates that it would be difficult for others to catch up.

Prepared by Andrew Selee, Director, Mexico Institute, 202-691-4088, and Christina Yagjian.