Polls indicate that Mexico’s left-leaning presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has a more than 20-point lead over his closest rival.
During Sunday night’s debate, supporters and critics watched carefully to see whether he would said anything that might cost him his formidable lead.
CGTN’s reports from Mexico City.
The four other contenders for Mexico’s presidency spent much of the night attacking Lopez Obrador. One verbal assault came from the PRI candidate, Jose Antonio Meade, who polls say is trailing a distant third.
“How are you going to explain to families that you want to sit down with these criminals and hold dialogue?” Antonio Meade asked. “With your ambition for power. and your fear of losing again, you have become a puppet for criminals.”Former First Lady and Independent Candidate Margarita Zavala is the only woman running.
“The objective of my government is to defend Mexicans, to defend you from the corrupt, to defend you from criminals, from (President Donald) Trump, to defend you from the abusive political parties,” Zavala said.
The 2nd place candidate is Ricardo Anaya, who leads a coalition of right-leaning and center left parties. He said his top priority is ending government corruption.
“I have traveled across the country and the complaints are all the same: there is not enough medicine in hospitals, youth give up studying because they don’t have access to scholarships, the countryside has been abandoned. The response has been that there’s no money. The problem is that public money is stolen,”Anaya claimed.
But the biggest surprise of the night came from independent candidate Jaime Rodriguez. He said politicians caught stealing public money should have a hand cut off.
“We have to go beyond what we have already done,” Rodriguez began.
“You are not being literal, are you?” a journalist asked.
“Yes, of course. Those who steal have to have their hand cut off,” Rodriquez said.
In the end, most independent political analysts and observers agreed that Lopez Obrador did not make any major errors that might cost him his lead.
“For me this is not just a job. It’s about directing a movement of millions of Mexicans – conscientious free men and women, who are ready to transform Mexico. I am the leader of this movement,” Lopez Obrador said.
Overall, the first debate drew in more more than 11 million viewers over the age of 18 in Mexico.
The next presidential debate is scheduled for May 20, in the border city of Tijuana. It’s just a little over two months before Mexicans chose their next leader on July 1.