MEXICO CITY – Prominent Mexican journalists and writers take a hard look at the potential candidates in the Aztec nation’s 2018 presidential contest in a new book put together by award-winning reporter and novelist Jorge Zepeda.
“Los suspirantes 2018” (The 2018 Hopefuls) is an “absolutely indispensable” resource” for voters seeking to learn the reality behind the public images created by marketing experts, Zepeda said in an interview with EFE.
Zepeda and other distinguished observers such as Sandra Lorenzano, Ricardo Raphael, and Salvador Camarena, examine a dozen figures expected to vie for the 2018 presidential nominations of Mexico’s major parties.
Among those featured in the book are Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, founder and leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), and Margarita Zavala, a former first lady seeking to become the candidate of the conservative National Action Party (PAN).
Attention is also given to the rivalry within the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) between Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who is second only to the president in terms of power, and Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray.
Eschewing the idea of simply labeling potential future presidents as good or bad, the authors spent months doing research and interviewing subjects as well as their respective families, friends, and foes, Zepeda said.
The piece about Zavala looks at how she combines being a devout Catholic with her role as a feminist who pushed the PAN to sharply increase the number of female candidates.
Zepeda took charge of the section on Lopez Obrador, who has already run for president twice as the standard-bearer of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
The first time, in 2006, Lopez Obrador lost by 0.56 percent of the vote to the PAN’s Felipe Calderon, husband of Margarita Zavala.
In 2012, the veteran leftist finished second to Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI, who has become one of Mexico’s least popular presidents in recent decades.
Lopez Obrador, according to Zepeda, “has enormous political capital, which is himself: his implacable resistance, his will, and his austerity.”
“But the principal political problem he has is also himself. He has a short fuse and it hurts him. He has the virtue of shooting himself in the foot,” Zepeda added.
The unapologetically nationalist Lopez Obrador is now leading in the polls, a situation many attribute to his being seen as the politician best equipped to deal with US President Donald Trump, who demonized Mexican immigrants during his campaign and vows to build a wall on the border.
Though unwilling to predict the winner, Zepeda sees the PRI’s prospects in 2018 as questionable, given the party’s performance in recent gubernatorial elections in several states, which he blames on disenchantment with Peña Nieto.
The current president came up “coddled, protected, and among patrons, and is a man given to frivolity,” Zepeda said.
Peña Nieto’s character is reflected in an administration that lacks a clear vision, is too cozy with powerful interests, and shows “complacency in the face of corruption,” Zepeda said.