Political Risk Analysis - Corruption & Security Focus Of Presidential Platforms - APR 2018

Election Primer: Party Platforms
Nearing the end of the primary season, leftist-populist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) remains the frontrunner in Mexico's presidential race, followed by the PAN-led coalition and the ruling PRI's coalition in a tight race. AMLO has benefitted from anti-establishment sentiment, rising security concerns and corruption scandals, placing him firmly in the lead in most polls. While negative partisanship will likely cap his support, the inclusion of three independent candidates will change the dynamic of the 2018 race, likely supporting AMLO's bid. With a large and fractured field, the presidency could potentially be won with 30% of the vote.

All three coalitions and independent candidates will run on anti-corruption and security policies, with non-establishment candidates likely to have more credibility on these issues. Official platform positions will differ more on economic policies. The PRI and PAN-led coalitions broadly support the status quo, while AMLO has vowed to pursue leftist-nationalist economic policies. Below we provide an overview of the policy platforms of the three major coalitions and independent candidates, listed in order of their polling at the time of writing.

AMLO's Platform Clicking With Disgruntled Voters
Mexico - Presidential Voting Intentions, % of Total
Source: Oraculus - Poll of Polls, BMI

Coalition: "Juntos Haremos Historia" - Morena, PES, and PT
Senior Member: Movimiento Regeneracion Nacional (Morena) - 50 deputies
Presidential Candidate: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)
Platform: AMLO has long billed himself as the anti-corruption candidate and, amid widespread allegations of wrongdoing among Mexico's established politicians, this will be a cornerstone of his 2018 campaign. Specific policy initiatives include a law aimed at illuminating conflicts of interest, cracking down on fiscal paradises and tax havens, and increasing transparency in the public procurement process. Improving security will also be a focus, with AMLO's strategy focused on more effectively identifying and supporting at risk communities. On both of these issues, AMLO will position himself as an outsider and a solution to the status quo policies of the PRI and PAN, Mexico's two most established parties.

On economic issues, leftist-populist AMLO stands in stark contrast to Mexico's established parties, the PRI and PAN, favoring a nationalistic economic policy agenda. His policies are aimed at supporting Mexico's rural community and achieving self-sufficiency in food production. Mexico is currently heavily reliant on food imports from the US, which AMLO blames on poor trade policies. His platform also includes polices aimed at achieving energy self-sufficiency, focused primarily on decreasing Mexican gasoline imports and increasing domestic refining capacity. These polices would represent a major shift in view from the current administration and have stoked investor fears that AMLO would disrupt Mexico's trade relationships and recently liberalized energy sector.

Junior Members:
Partido Encuentro Social (PES) - 10 deputies: The PES is a centre-right party originating in the state of Baja California, which is primarily focused on social issues. The party holds conservative views on these issues and is opposed to same-sex marriage and abortion.
Partido del Trabajo (PT): - 0 deputies: The PT is a leftist labour party founded via the joining of a number of social organizations in 1990. The party's platform is focused on promoting socialist ideals and supporting workers.

Coalition: "Coalicion Por Mexico al Frente" - PAN, PRD, MC
Senior Member: Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) - 108 deputies
Presidential Candidate: Ricardo Anaya
Platform: Although Anaya is yet to lay out a large number of specific policy proposals, his strategy will focus on being perceived as a credible anti-corruption candidate and as a more sensible alternative to the radical economic policies of AMLO. PAN's official platform has five pillars: transforming the current political system, combatting corruption and impunity, restoring peace in the country, sustainable economic development via growth, and strengthening Mexico's position in the world.

The Coalicion Por Mexico al Frente, on the other hand, has outlined three slogans that guide its joint platform: corruption is not cultural, inequality is not natural, and violence is not inevitable. More specific anti-corruption policy proposals included in the coalition's platform are: strengthening the Sistema Nacional Anticorrupcion (SNA); eliminating constitutional protections for all public servants (including the president); and increasing transparency over public contracting and procurement. The joint platform also lays out numerous goals aimed at improving security.

The PRD (and to a lesser extent the MC) will have more clout in guiding policy direction than the junior members in the two other coalitions, and there are significant discrepancies in their official platforms. The joint platform released in January is thus equally notable for what it excludes than what it includes. For instance, the PRD's platform includes a proposal to end the use of the armed forces in combatting organised crime, while the joint platform does not. On economic policy, the PRD has called for an end to "privatisation" and stressed its defense of natural resource sovereignty, while the joint platform includes points about the importance of private initiatives in economic development. While we expect PAN-led policies will take precedence on many issues, we anticipate a substantial amount of horse-trading on policy initiatives, with the PRD pushing for increases in social spending. The various coalition partners also disagree on social issues, including LGBTQ rights.

Junior Members:
Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) - 52 deputies: The PRD is a left-leaning social democratic party and has been one of Mexico's three major parties since its founding in 1989, after being split off from the PRI. Current presidential frontrunner, AMLO was one of its founding members and leaders until he broke from the party in 2012. The PRD's platform focuses on human rights - including women's, LGBTQ, and indigenous rights - improving economic equality, education, and environmental protection. On economic issues, it believes in government policies that promote the productive sector.
Movimiento Ciudadano (MC) - 20 deputies: The MC is also a left-leaning social democratic party, with AMLO acting as the party's first leader.

Coalition: "Todos por Mexico" - PRI, PVEM, Panal
Senior Member: Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) -204 deputies
Presidential Candidate: Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena
Platform: Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena (Meade), the first non-party-member presidential candidate for the PRI, will campaign on his technocratic credentials, having headed five different ministries under two previous administrations. His economic policies will more or less reflect the status quo, continuing the reforms undertaken by President Enrique Pena Nieto. PRI's platform outlines a goal of an "open economy" that benefits Mexican families, with policies focusing on preserving macroeconomic stability, promoting investment and competitiveness, and reducing inequality.

Like his opponents, his platform will also focus on anti-corruption and security policies, and he will continue to self-identify as a "citizen" rather than a politician in an effort to distance himself from the scandals that have affected the current PRI government. He has outlined a plan to combat crime and increase security with five principles: reduce the flow of arms into the country; improve salaries and training for police; equal punishment for equal crimes; prevention and inclusion policies; and create a comprehensive information system. He has also spoken about the importance of prison reform and general improvement of the justice system. Meade has also proposed an anti-corruption initiative which would return funds stolen by officials to the Mexican people, primarily by confiscating all ill-gotten money and property and using them for grants for women and children. The plan would also increase punishment for public officials found guilty of corruption and reinstate a certification process for the assets of high-ranking officials and legislators.

Junior Members:
Green Party (PVEM) - 39 deputies: The PVEM, or Green party, is focused on environment conservation and holds the fifth largest number of seats in Mexico's Chamber of Deputies. It has previously formed coalitions with the PAN, but has been in coalitions with the PRI since 2003. Its platform focuses on expanding environmental protections.
Nueva Alianza (Panal) - 12 deputies: Panal is a centre-left liberal party founded in 2005 by the National Union of Eduation Workers. The group has long been aligned with the PRI.


Following electoral reforms in 2014, the 2018 election will be the first in Mexico's modern history to feature independent candidates. Three candidates, Margarita Zavala, Jaime Rodriguez Calderon and Armando Rios Piter, obtained the 866,593 signatures (1% of the electorate) required to be on the ballot. Currently, the three independent candidates draw approximately 10% of voter intentions combined, with Zavala accounting for the lion's share at 5.8%. We note that there has been some discussion of a joint bid with a common platform among the independents, especially Piter and Rodriguez, but this remains far from being hashed out.

Margarita Zavala: Zavala is the wife of former President Felipe Calderon and a 30-year veteran of the PAN. She was leading in voting intentions among potential PAN candidates before she exited the party in October, alleging that PAN president Ricardo Anaya was blocking her from obtaining the candidacy to further his own. Her economic platform will not differ significantly from that of the PAN, focusing on driving economic growth via investment. She is also campaigning on vocational training, tourism, tech and the green economy, and aims to increase the minimum wage. Her platform, outlined in her book "Es la Hora de Mexico", calls for improving the justice system, combating corruption, improving access to health and education, and raising Mexico's voice on the international stage. On this last point, she calls for strengthening Mexico's bi-lateral relationship with the United States and standing up to the "hate speech" of US President Donald Trump.

Jaime "El Bronco" Rodriguez Calderon: Calderon is the current governor the north-eastern state of Nuevo Leon, and the first independent politician to hold a governorship in Mexico. A former member of the PRI, he broke with the party in 2014. His outsider, anti-establishment stance helped him win the Nuevo Leon governor's race in 2015. While his policy platform is unclear, the governor's platform will likely focus on security issues. As governor, Calderon has developed a reputation for being tough on organized crime.

Rios Piter: Piter is a centrist senator and technocrat from the southern state of Guerrero. He is a former member of the PRD, which he left in April 2017. The senator's political platform is focused on 10 issues, including: corruption and insecurity; youth and employment; women and equality; infant health; justice; electoral integrity; and environmental protections. Piter has also been at the centre of a recent drive to unite the three independent candidates under a single platform, after which a single candidate would be selected.