MEXICO CITY – Easter weekend marks the start of the largest and most expensive electoral process in Mexico’s history, with four presidential candidates vying for the support of more than 88.3 million eligible voters.
Mexicans are set to go to the polls on July 1, not only to chose a president for the next six years, but also to fill 3,400 elective positions at the federal, state and municipal levels.
Left-leaning Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a dogged opponent of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration, is leading the polls, while ruling-party candidate Jose Antonio Meade remains in third place.
Conservative politician Ricardo Anaya has been placed second, although his popularity recently declined after corruption allegations surfaced involving his real-estate dealings.
Anaya and Meade’s campaign teams have been bogged down since December in a war of mutual accusations of alleged corruption practices, allowing Lopez Obrador to continue to lead the polls, which also show a large proportion of undecided voters, representing 20 to 28 percent.
Margarita Zavala, the wife of conservative former President Felipe Calderon, will be the first presidential candidate not running on a political party’s ticket to appear on the ballot, which was made possible after a 2014 electoral reform.
The next president will receive a country marked by a growing wave of violence, persistent social inequality, the loss of credibility of the political elite and endless corruption scandals.
The July 1 elections are considered to be the largest in Mexico’s history not only because of the 3,404 elective positions being disputed but also because of the unprecedented number of voters and the enormous cost of the election, projected to rise to $1.22 billion, the largest budget ever requested by the country’s electoral authorities.