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One Month Out: New Perspectives on the 2018 Mexican Election

Join us for an in-depth analysis of voting trends and the platforms of Mexico's presidential candidates.

Date & Time

May. 22, 2018
1:00pm – 2:15pm ET


5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Get Directions


On July 1, 2018, Mexicans go to the polls to pick a new President and a new Congress. Throughout the campaign, there has been a clear front-runner, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who on his third attempt to win the presidency appears to have cracked the code on how to convince Mexico’s voters that he offers an opportunity for positive change rather than a threat. AMLO’s Morena party may also be heading towards a congressional majority, raising the possibility that he will be able to enact an ambitious legislative agenda.

The next month will continue to see intense campaigning among the four remaining candidates. For voters who are unhappy with the status quo, that is a compelling and attractive prospect, and the polling numbers show that AMLO has been successful thus far in persuading voters across the demographic spectrum that he offers the best chance for meaningful change. The other candidates have turned their attention to attacking AMLO and his Morena party at every opportunity; yet, nothing has reduced his support from the Mexican electorate. Join us for an in-depth analysis of voting trends and the platforms of the candidates.

Selected Quotes

Carlos Heredia:

“What are we not hearing? What are we not looking at? What part of the conversation are we missing? Because there are many Mexicans out there who think otherwise. They don’t see this as a big risk, they see this as their chance to be a part of the whole political process from which they feel totally excluded. So that is the type of question that we need to ask ourselves.” 

“But then again, the big question to me is, how do we build a country that addresses the big gaps, the inequality gaps in Mexico, and allows for upward social mobility? Other than the country we have now where Enrique Cardinas every couple of years of the Centro Espinosa Ingelsias […] publishes results that tell you that if you are born in a family in the Sierra Misteca in Gujata, and that’s the lowest 10% of income, you have absolutely no chance to climb to the upper echelons of society.” 

"But was the reaction yes in fact, we have a wage problem in Mexico. Even in industries where productivity grows, wages do not grow hand in hand. So, do we acknowledge our problem? No. We said ‘Oh, it’s the Americans and the Canadians who are using this protectionist devise. And after all, we know our workers, we live with our workers and they endure what they have to endure. They’ve done it for decades, so why should we change anything?’ And we come to a situation in which we are telling our trade partners ‘We don’t need to invest in workers development.’” 

“But the point I want to make, is that the responsibility of the extreme economic political polarization in which Mexico finds itself now, a lot of that responsibility lies with those group of people who say ‘let him change, let him transform himself so he can adopt our views.’ And not ‘What do we need to do ourselves to change, to address the very excruciating issues that underlie this election.’”

María Amparo Casar:

“We wanted so much to have competitive elections and once we have them, we don’t like what goes with them, we don’t like what goes with competitive elections which is the uncertainty of results.”

“But maybe it is worse or it is more dangerous to have a minority government. With Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador why do I believe it would be more problematic to have a minority government? Because in a presidential system that has dual legitimacy, the president may be elected with a mandate which is very different from the one in Congress.”

“Lopez Obrador has promised a lot of things, believing that he can manage this huge bureaucracy in Mexico which is plagued by weaknesses […] I think Mexico has to work on building capacities for its institutions if we want a real change.”

Juan Pardinas:

Regarding potential election outcomes and democracy: “My favorite definition of democracy it’s certainty of the rules and uncertainty of the results and there are still a very thin margin of uncertainty; it’s very narrow and there’s maybe not so much evidence to support it, but still surprises could happen.”

“My big concerns with Lopez Obrador are three of them: the first is his character, then his ideas, his policy mission, and then the group of people, some of the group of people that surrounds him.”

“I’m worried about his [Lopez Obrador’s] ideas and how he doesn’t acknowledge that there are some things in Mexico that work. I think he’s kind of a doctor with a very good ear for the people’s hunger […] there are a lot of reasons for people to be angry in Mexico: corruption, violence, inequality. And he has a very good way to put all these agenda and transform it into very simple messages to the people. But when you go to the doctor, the first part is that he has to give you a diagnosis, which kind of illness you have. The second part is he has to give you a cure. And if he gives you poison instead of medicine, well, the outcome it’s not going to be very nice. And I don’t see a policy idea that could allow me to imagine that Mexico will get better.”  

Carlos Heredia
Professor, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)
Advisory Board Member, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

María Amparo Casar
Professor-Researcher, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)
Advisory Board Member, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Juan Pardinas
General Director, Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad (IMCO)
Advisory Board Member, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

Duncan Wood

Director, Mexico Institute, Wilson Center

For more information on the 2018 Mexican elections, visit our Elections Guide.

Hosted By

Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more

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