Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, December 05, 2017


How does your textbook's account of dadazo compare with this account? How do you decide which version to trust? Why?

José Antonio Meade is the PRI’s candidate for Mexico’s presidency
ONE custom in Mexico’s era of one-party rule was the dedazo (big finger), the president’s choice of his successor, who would inevitably be elected to a single six-year term. The authoritarian rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ended in 2000, but the dedazo returned on November 27th this year, when Enrique Peña Nieto, the president, chose his finance secretary, José Antonio Meade, as the PRI’s candidate in the presidential election to be held in July…

Mr Meade’s selection begins a seven-month race for a tough job. The next president will have to deal with a soaring crime rate, anger about corruption, a weak economy and Donald Trump, who may by then have decided to tear up or drastically change the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA)… Mr Peña’s successor will also have to decide whether to carry on with reforms of the economy, energy and education that he began.

Mr Meade is by no means guaranteed to win. On the contrary, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a left-wing populist who has twice run for president, is ahead in most polls. If his lead holds, he will win the one-round election…

Mr Meade will find Mr Peña’s endorsement to be a mixed blessing. The president is the least popular on record, with an approval rating of 26% (though that is more than double what it was earlier this year). Voters think he has done too little to fight crime and corruption and, after a conflict-of-interest scandal, they doubt his honesty. Five out of six voters say corrupt leaders are a “very big problem”…

In choosing him, Mr Peña went for somebody with little political baggage and lots of intellectual heft. Mr Meade is the first candidate for a major political party who does not belong to any party. An economist with a doctorate from Yale University, he has held more jobs in the cabinet than any living politician… Mr Meade is thought to be honest. According to a quickie survey after his nomination by GCE, a pollster, 23% of voters back him… That is not a bad start, considering that a third of voters have never heard of Mr Meade.

Yet to win he will need to perform a horribly tricky political balancing-act. He must attract voters from the PAN, the PRI’s long-time foe…

If Mr Meade has his way, the election will be a referendum not on Mr Peña’s record but on Mr López Obrador, whom opponents portray as a Mexican version of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro (see Bello). AMLO, as Mr López Obrador is often known, mixes justified anger at the corrupt political establishment with populist ideas, such as making Mexico self-sufficient in energy and food.

He appeals mostly to the half of Mexicans deemed poor; ie, who make less than $79 a month if urban (or $56 if rural)…

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