2018 Mexican Presidential Election: Why Americans Should Care

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, front-runner in the 2018 Mexican presidential election
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, front-runner in the 2018 Mexican presidential election

While we, Americans, continue to struggle with the changing political climates in our country, a presidential election is near for our Southern neighbors. Enrique Peña Nieto’s “Sexenio” (Six-Year Term) is coming to an end in 2018, and it is time for Mexico to elect a new president; one that must hold their ground against American President Donald Trump.

Famously riddled with corruption and bribery, the 2018 Mexican presidential election will be one to watch. As the reigning political party, the centrist PRI, loses their footing and popularity, it may be that a new party takes the lead. This would heavily impact American trade policy and diplomacy. Here is a brief introduction of the front-runners in the presidential election:

NOTE: Mexico has a multi-party system

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

AMLO, as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is referred to in Mexico, is a veteran candidate that has been running for the Mexican presidency since 2006 (this is his third campaign). Obrador has been a leftist candidate since the beginning of his career, often taking the side opposite of the ruling government. Although his origins stem from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), he became the co-founder of the dissenting leftist party that is now known as the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in 1988. With growing distrust of PRD leadership and a surge of conflicting ideas, Obrador split from the party in 2014 and created the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party.

Obrador has spent his political career criticizing Mexican politics and leaders for their corruption. He runs on the promise to return the wealth that he claims has been stolen by politicians and bureaucrats to the Mexican people. It is because of this that he gains sympathy with Mexico’s neediest classes who view him as their “Mesias Salvador.” While many hear the message of salvation, others hear a threat to institutions, enterprise, and reforms. AMLO’s critics call him a far-left populist and compare his potential presidency as similar to that of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

AMLO prides himself as the “one candidate that can stand against Trump.” In fact, it is noted that he gains traction everytime the American president takes a jab at Mexico. Obrador is currently leading the polls, terrifying many who have witnessed his radical rise in his third run.

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José Antonio Meade Kuribeña

Jose Antonio Meade Kuribeña

Meade, as he is known, has never been a politician and has never affiliated with a political party. That being said, Meade is the 2018 candidate for the PRI (Mexico’s ruling political party). How is this possible, you might ask? Well, the PRI has experienced much humiliation and downfall leading up to this election. Unable to find a candidate that was not tainted by scandal, PRI decided to modify its statutes, and allow for a non-member of the party to represent them. PRI is Mexico’s centrist party and has now aligned with the Green Party and others in this campaign.

Despite the complexity of the political party situation, Meade’s career has centered around public service. Under the Calderón government (PAN), he served as the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Finance. Under the current Nieto administration (PRI), he has served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Social Development, and Secretary of Finance. It can be said that Meade is the most qualified candidate to run for the 2018 presidency.

Not only is Meade experienced, he is also highly educated. Meade attended the ITAM, a premier private research university, and Yale University in the United States.

Unfortunately, many of his supporters worry he may not be able to rally the people as well as Obrador.

Because of his experience and his education, Meade can be expected to strengthen ties with the United States and maybe provide a new take on US-Mexico relations.

Ricardo Anaya Cortes 

Ricardo Anaya Cortes

Anaya is a young candidate representing the PAN, Mexico’s right-wing party. Anaya has been a part of PAN since 2000 and has been the president of the party since 2015. Under his leadership, PAN has had many ideological ruptures, causing many to leave the party.

Nonetheless, Anaya has led the coalition “Mexico al Frente,” which is comprised of PAN, PRD, and the Citizen’s Movement. These parties have joined forces in order to defeat the current PRI government in this year’s election.

Anaya is very charismatic, a great orator, and speaks three languages to perfection.

The United States GOP could find common ground with Anaya’s party as they are both on the right of the spectrum.


Maragarita Zavala

Since 2012, Mexico has allowed candidates of non-parties to campaign for the presidency. Although the hill is steep for those to wish to climb it, many citizens have nominated themselves.

Perhaps the most notable independent candidate is Margarita Zavala (ex-PANista and Former President Calderón’s wife). If elected, she would be Mexico’s first female president and would have beaten the United States in “breaking the glass ceiling.”

As the election unfolds, it becomes increasingly obvious that no matter the outcome, the winner of the Mexican presidential election will have to face-off with American President Donald J. Trump.


  1. An interesting headline of Daniela’s article. “Why Americans Should Care?”
    Cooperation rather than alienation sound better in the actual political symphony. The First and Second Movement was played by Trump’s campaigning and governing. The remaining two rely on the next Mexican president and his rhetoric towards his northern neighbor. Those “under the border” should care about what happens “up there”, while Americans Should Care about the outcome “down here” on behalf of a good performance of the orchestra.

  2. Very accurate summary of the mexican presidential candidates for the next election. All mexicans, including us the expatriates, should vote as there are is a lot at stake. Gracias Dan!!

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