Political Risk Analysis - Independents' Exclusion Will Have Mixed Effect On Presidential Race - MAY 2018

The Latest: On March 16, Mexico's Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE) announced that independent candidates Jaime "El Bronco" Rodriguez Calderon and Armando Rios Piter would be left off of the ballot for the July 1 presidential election. The two appeared to have surpassed the 866,593 signatures required to be included on the ballot, but were deemed ineligible after a large number of signatures were disqualified by the electoral authority. Their exit will leave Margarita Zavala as the only independent contender in the presidential race.

Implications: The exclusion of Rodriguez Calderon, populist governor of Nuevo Leon, and Rios Piter, leftist former PRD member, will likely have a mixed effect on the presidential race. Given their left-leaning or populist campaign messaging, the bulk of their supporters may shift their support to leftist-populist frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). On the other hand, Zavala's candidacy will likely siphon support from 'established' PRI and PAN candidates, given her centre-right views and longstanding ties to the PAN. Additionally, the move could drive further anti-establishment sentiment among the Mexican electorate, as the ruling PRI is widely perceived to have an influence on Mexico's institutions, including the INE.

However, the exclusion of independent candidates will also likely increase the threshold for victory in the presidential vote, potentially undermining AMLO's bid. As we have previously noted, negative partisanship towards AMLO will likely prevent his support from rising much further. As such, the inclusion of the three independent candidates had the effect of broadening the field, and potentially enabling a victory with as little as 30% of the vote. With only Zavala left, the threshold for victory will likely rise. Rodriguez Calderon and Rios Piter were drawing 3-6% of voting intentions in recent polling, while Zavala draws 5-7%.

Independent Exit Will Increase Threshold For Victory
Mexico - Presidential Voting Intentions, % of Total
Source: Oraculus - Poll of Polls, BMI

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