When Stephen Colbert said that Mexican presidential elections are more fun, he was not joking. During the first presidential debate a playmate stole the show, so be sure to watch the second debate this Sunday, June 10th for more unexpected surprises. Before watching the debate get to know the four Mexican presidential candidates. Here are some basic facts about them:
Women first: Josefina Vázquez Mota. The first female presidential candidate of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) was also the first female Secretary of Social Development and Secretary of Education. Economist by trade, she has experience running social programs to fight poverty but as coordinator of PAN’s Congressional caucus, she developed experience in political processes. Although this is her first time running for a public elected post, she was behind the scenes of the current President Felipe Calderón. Before joining politics, she authored a best seller to empower women under the title “Dios mío, hazme viuda por favor” (God, Please Make Me a Widow). However, she has been married for 28 years with her high school sweetheart and they have three daughters. She almost fainted in a public speech and in another occasion, she was so nervous that she erroneously said: “I will support money laundering operations”. Her second last name “Mota” is the equivalent of Spanish slang for “dope”. Not her fault, obviously.
The front-runner: Enrique Peña Nieto. The former governor of Estado de México is the good looking candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party that ruled Mexico for 71 unstoppable years until 2000. An attorney by trade, Peña is descendant of five former governors who have ruled the most populous state for the last 27 years. As governor, his political strategy had two legs: public works and advertisement on primetime of those works. While he started his campaign with a 20 points ahead, a recent survey published in the daily Reforma put him just four percentage points ahead of the leftist candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Married with Televisa actress Angélica Rivera, he could not remember why his previous wife died in an interview with Univision’s anchor Jorge Ramos; he also lacked memory to remember three titles of his favorite books during the International Book Festival in Guadalajara. On social media, he was also criticized for ignoring the amount of the minimum salary in Mexico as well as the price of tortillas. Recently, his candidacy has sparked anger from college students who see the PRI’s comeback as the return of authoritarianism and corruption practices.
Trailing behind: Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Former Mayor of Mexico City, he ran for president in 2006 and contested the election results under claims of fraud. In 1990, he also claimed electoral fraud when he ran for governor of his home state Tabasco. As a Mayor, his policy focused on social programs such as a universal pension for seniors, scholarships, and assistance for single mothers. Although some people claim he is a “Mexican Hugo Chavez”, he was backed by billionaire Carlos Slim to revive historic downtown in Mexico City. He opposes the privatization of Pemex and he opposed Fobaproa, a bailout for the Mexican financial system in 1995. His funny side: Since 2006, he toured the country calling himself the “Legitimate President” after claiming electoral fraud on the last presidential election.
The underdog: Gabriel Quadri de la Torre. An academician and environmentalist, he is known as the “hipster candidate”. He presents himself as the “citizens’ candidate” and he fiercely criticizes politicians. Quadri belongs to the New Alliance Party (Panal), a party created by the Teachers’ Union that split from PRI and it is backed by the union’s leader, Elba Esther Gordillo (who is still a PRI militant). During PRI times, this party supported the creation of political parties that had little popular support to create a false image of a democratic opposition and whose mission was to divert votes from political rivals PAN and PRD. His funny side: American media met this candidate for staring at the playmate girl who stole the show during first presidential debate.