Economy, development top debate ahead of Mexico’s presidential runoff

Latin America

In this photo released by the National Electoral Institute (INE), presidential candidates, from left, independent Jaime Rodriguez, known as “El Bronco,” Ricardo Anaya of the Forward for Mexico Coalition, Jose Antonio Meade, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, with the MORENA party, attend the second of three debates in Tijuana, Mexico, Sunday, May 20, 2018. (INE via AP)

The remaining candidates in Mexico’s presidential election faced off this week for a final televised debate ahead of the July 1 election. 

CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports Mexico City.

The economy and development were the focus of Mexico’s third and final candidates’ debate. The front-runner and former Mexico City mayor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, displayed confidence.

The other candidates attacked him but Obrador said it’s not his fault they are trailing far behind. During the debate, he mentioned the names of his possible cabinet officials if he were to win. He also said he’ll try to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in talks with the U.S. president.

 “I will suggest that we maintain NAFTA. If that’s not possible, it will not be the end for Mexico. Our country has many natural resources and a hard-working population. The only thing missing, and we’ll have it soon, is a good government,” Lopez Obrador said.

All four candidates for the Mexican presidency agreed corruption is the main impediment to economic growth in the country.

“Ending corruption requires a commitment to directly investigate the president of the Republic. Because I say this, others attack me. I tell them I am not afraid,” said Mexican Presidential Candidate Ricardo Anaya.

This is Lopez Obrador’s third bid for the Mexican presidency. He now appears to be moderating his position on the economy. However, analysts have said he and Donald Trump share the idea that economic nationalism is the way forward.

“He represents a proposal to go against the globalization of the Mexican economy and to increase the intervention of the Mexican state in the economy, much like what happened in the 60s in Mexico,” said Ricardo Pascoe, an analyst with the Autonomous National University.

The campaign closes in two weeks, and voters will choose their next president on July first. While the polls give Lopez Obrador a more than 20-point lead ahead of the second-place challenger, polls also indicate that a large number Mexican voters are still undecided.