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Anaya uber AMLO?? Not so fast…

1 May 2018

Efrén Flores, writing for SinEmbargo, spoke to several political gurus who conclude the “hail mary” attempt to stop AMLO by convincing PRI to throw their (considerable) political might beyond Ricardo Anaya is likely not to succeed. Possible, but not probable.

Loosely (and quickly) translated from  “Un pacto por el voto útil podría ya no servir a Meade o a Anaya: algunos creen que iría con AMLO” (SinEmbargo, 30 April 2018):


The National Action (PAN) and Institutional Revolutionary (PRI) parties could join forces to defeat presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), but political scientists interviewed by SinEmbargo throw cold water on the idea, noting that it would not necessarily produce a victory for a fusion ticket.

The academics interviewed by SinEmbargo explained that the corporate vote (those votes controlled by the party “machine”) by themselves would not would not, on their own, be enough to prevent an unwanted candidate from achieving victory, unless it was a “closed” election (one in which voters had already made up their mind between a limited number of choices).

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the candidate of the Juntos Haremos Historia coalition “, has until now led in the polls, his closest oppenent being Ricardo Anaya Cortés, of the tri-party “Por México Al Frente” coalition (PAN-PRD-MC).

Two months remaining before the election, López Obrador has a 20 point advantage in the polls. In the last several days, some PAN members of the Por Mexico al Frente have raised the idea of a coaltion with the “Todos Por México” coaltion (PRI, PVEM and Panal), whose candidate José Antonio Meade Kuribreña.

Speculation about a link between Ricardo Anaya and Jose Antonio Meade also comes from comments made at an event organized by Citibanamex last Friday. In a video that emerged from the closed-door forum, Anaya Cortés said he is “absolutely open” to adding anyone to his campaign that would help defeat López Obrador. Pressed by interviewer Leonardo Curzio Gutiérrez, he did not rule out working with the PRI and President Enrique Peña Nieto.

A simple look at the mathematics behind the idea shows the appeal for promoters of a “never López Obrador” movement, particularly for inveestors who think the leftist former Mexico City mayor’s positions would damage the economy. López Obrador has 46.6 percent support in the most recent Bloomberg Electoral Barometer. Anaya and Meade have a combined 46.5 percent (although it should be noted that the Barometer has not been updated since 20 April).

Today, Anaya said he was willing to receive support from all the citizens – party activists or not – willing to “join forces” and defeat López Obrador. Despite having met with President Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate from Queretero said it was not”a matter of [formal] agreements” with the president, nor “with the leaders, nor with the candidates” of other parties, but a call to society to support him.

However, Jorge Castañeda, one of Anaya’s main advisors, had already approached the Meade camp, which has failed to show much progress in the polls:

“I do not want to rule out anything, the numbers are what they are and I think we can find new approaches and affinities in the searches,” said the former Foreign Minister in an interview with Reforma‘s René Delgado.

However, like candidate Anaya, Castañeda has denied official negotiations are in progress:

“When there is a greater enemy”, it is not unreasonable to think of an alliance between the PRI and the PAN, explained Dr. José Fernández Santillán, a political analyst at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM, for its initials in Spanish). However, he said that an alliance would not be enough to beat López Obrador because “it is not just the sum of votes”. They would also need to “unmask López Obrador (or put an end to the myth that he is unbeatable)”.

Dr. Jose Antonio Crespo, research professor at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE for its initials in Spanish), agreed with Dr. Fernandez that, given the confrontation between these two parties, any agreement, even a tacit one, would be “difficult”.

The specialist in Political Sociology predicted that if it occurs, it would be “ineffective”, since PRI New Alliance Party (PANAL) voters have “more ideological identification with López Obrador” than with PAN. Those grassroots PRIs and PANAL voters (mostly teachers) “have the same ideological matrix as López Obrador, which is harks back to the PRI prior to the neoliberalism of the sixties or seventies.”

For Professor Felipe de la O Lopez, a specialist in Demoscopy and Public Opinion of the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences (FCPyS for its initials in Spanish) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Anaya’s strategy is to position itself as the second most viable candidate, Jose Antonio Meade Kuribreña is also trying to do.

In that sense, he commented that it is logical to consider what would be called the “useful vote” although it would not translated into an “effective vote” for Anaya. De la O pointed out that what Anaya seeks to promote is the idea of a “broad front” that would attact undecided voters from the PRI; and those for whom he would be the best choice among the remaining candidates. .

“The idea of the useful vote responds to the need to attract some of the voters and some of the political leaders, of each of those parties, to position themselves in the face of the election,” the analyst explained. Voters who see that their first option has no chance of victory, will choose the “second least bad” and there, he said, enters the possibility of Anaya to win votes.

In their assessment, Fernández, Crespo, de la O, as well as FCPyS’s political analyst Dr. Carlos Luis Sánchez y Sánchez, see difficulties in any PRI and PAN union. While not impossible, Sánchez y Sánchez says that it “does not mean that the candidates, as they usually do, call on their party faithful to vote for the agreed upon candidate, but on grassroots voters to cast their ballots for a candidate, regardless of what the party leaders are telling them. As Crespo noted, this has been both Lopez Obrador and Anaya’s strategy. Mead is also trying to sell himself as a “useful vote” for PAN (technically the candidate is a PAN party member, although the candidate for the PRI-led coaliton) Crespo.

However, according to Sánchez y Sánchez, “the useful vote is only decisive when the election is closed”. And about the corporate vote – for example, the PRI – he mentioned that “yes it could end up supporting Anaya”, although as the other analysts explained, there is always the possibility that in ballot booth, even the the machine voters could decide to go with AMLO. They pointed to the 2006 election, when despite an agreement between Felipe Calderón Hinojosa the PAN candidate and PANAL leader Elba Esther Gordillo, many PANAL voters cast their ballots for Lopez Obrador (then running as the PRD candidate).


Although Ricardo Anaya Cortés has denied that there is a possibility of an formal agreement between the PAN and the PRI, and PRI leaders, like the former Governor of Coahuila, Rubén Moreira Valdés- dismiss the idea of closing ranks with PAN, in the public imagination there is a coalition between the two, dubbed “PRIAN”.

According to Fernández Santillán, “PRIAN” was created by Carlos Salinas de Gortari when the PRI no longer had the votes to carry though certain constitutional changes. PAN’s Diego Fernández de Cevallos, Luis H. Álvarez and Carlos Castillo Peraza “were the ones who negotiated this link and this support,” he recalled.

The result was a pragmatic coalition program that lasted through the administrations of Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, Vicente Fox Quesada and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa. With Peña Nieto, however, there was the “Pact for Mexico” in 2012, “which was a parliamentary agreement in lieu of forming a coalition government.”.

But, as Crespo from CIDE points out, the current problem is “a confrontation [between PAN and PRI]that we had not seen … since 1988. I mean dating before the election, which makes it difficult to have these agreements. Agreements that we assume existed in other elections are very difficult now and that hurts both parties”.

The disagreements between the two political institutes, coincided Fernandez and Crespo, “only benefit AMLO.” And as Fernandez said, the option of a useful vote will be an option if Anaya “changes his attitude towards the PRI and the President of the Republic, whom he promised to put in jail. That was awkward. “

Despite the difficulties, the ITESM analyst recalled that about 30% of Lopez Obrador supporters have said they might change their vote.” This is consistent with the most recent survey by Consulta Mitofsky, which indicates that 42.2 percent of the votes in favor of AMLO, up to April 2018, were “volatile.”

In addition,

“Of the 75 percent of those polled who declare a preference, 19 percent of the total number of citizens say they can still change their preference in the campaign. That is the element that allows us to affirm that there is no sure result and that group which candidates and parties are targeting”.

This amounts to 16 million voters who have yet to make a selection. But two months until the presidential election, it is very difficult for Anaya to harvest them all. For Anaya to win, the 32 percent of the PAN’s volatile votes would also need to remain with him.

For the moment, AMLO’s hard vote (18.7 million votes according to Mitofsky) exceeds that of his opponents Anaya (13.5 million) and Meade (12.1 million). In two months, the experts say anything can happen, but that for Anaya to win would require a pact with the opposition that would lock in the “corporate vote”, and for him to capture the so-called “useful vote”. There are no guarantees that he can achieve it, but it confirms that PRIAN is more than a figment of the imagination.

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