Mexico Election 2018: A Historic Vote across the Nation | Wilson Center
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Mexico Election 2018: A Historic Vote across the Nation

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Mexicans head to the polls on July 1. Almost 88 million voters will be electing 3,416 different positions, making the 2018 election unprecedented in its scope. Positions at stake include the presidency, state and federal legislative posts, governors, and mayors. Thirty out of 32 states will hold local elections.

In the presidential race, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is the clear front-runner according to the latest polls. There is also a chance that AMLO’s Morena party may attain a congressional majority, raising the possibility that he will be able to enact an ambitious legislative agenda.

The outcome of this election will determine the possibilities for political coalitions that will provide both governance and public policy options for the country – and could redefine the role of government in areas such as economic development, energy, and security. The Wilson Center's Mexico Institute convened an in-depth discussion with experts on electoral prospects at the federal and state levels.


Selected Quotes


Jorge Buendía

“It’s very clear that Obrador has a very big advantage… What [would have to] happen for Obrador to lose? People talk about polling mistakes in the past, but you would need a truly catastrophic [error] where the polls are really, really wrong for this result not to be true.”

"You can see that the advantage that López Obrador has is more or less the same amount in all social groups. Unlike the past, there is no division of Mexican society. In the past, let's say, some regions support[ed] him, some regions oppose[d] him, some social groups [were] against him. Nowadays, we see that López Obrador is the front runner in [all of] these different social groups.”

“[The election] is a done deal.”

Joy Langston

“It’s another historical election in Mexico, and they have all been historic since basically 1988 or 1994, because something new and different and interesting happens. They were always elections that were leading to more democracy rather than less democracy, more stability rather than less stability. And what I think is interesting in this 2018 election is that something is coming to an end, which is the Mexican party system… Something is coming and we don't know what it is and we don't know if it's going to be good for democracy and stability or if it would be bad for democracy and stability.”

“Let's talk about trends: basically, it's bad for all the parties except for Morena.”

“What is going to happen when you don't have a governor to help you? What does that mean in terms of winning future elections, both state- and federal-level? It means it would be much more difficult for you to do so as a politician from one of those old, traditional parties. So, this is why it's going to matter dramatically how the lower house and the senate comes out, no matter who wins the presidency. So, I'm making an even stronger argument for the importance of the legislative elections.”

Eric Magar

“Given that [Morena] is a new party, we could expect very large presidential coattails. If you look at the campaign signs, you typically see López Obrador and one of the lower ticket candidates across the country, so the coattails could be high.”

“Whether the PAN – which will presumably be the largest opposition party – actually manages to hold [Morena] accountable depends whether they, themselves, are not subject to internal warfare given their disastrous results. And so, this looks like a very different congress from what we’ve been seeing in the last decade-and-a-half or two decades.”

“This wouldn’t be the slight or incremental changes that we have been experiencing over the past three or four decades; this would actually amount to a discrete jump. We are probably going to experience a unified non-PRI government for the first time with a very split opposition, [and] a new party system is likely.”


Jorge Buendía
Director, Buendía & Laredo

Joy Langston
Professor of Political Science, CIDE

Eric Magar
Professor, Department of Political Science, ITAM

Duncan Wood

Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center