Mex­i­can left­ist in­creases lead

The New Age (Free State) - - POLITICS - AN­THONY ESPOSITO MEX­ICO CITY

MEX­I­CAN left­ist An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador has seen his lead ahead of July’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in­crease, while the rul­ing party’s con­tender has slipped slightly, ac­cord­ing to an opin­ion poll pub­lished in a lo­cal news­pa­per yes­ter­day.

The for­mer Mex­ico City mayor, who has al­ready run twice for pres­i­dency, leads the pack of hope­fuls with 27.1% in Fe­bru­ary, up 3.5 per­cent­age points from Jan­uary, ac­cord­ing to the poll­ster Mitof­sky’s sur­vey pub­lished in El Economista news­pa­per.

For­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Jose An­to­nio Meade, of the rul­ing In­sti­tu­tional Revo­lu­tion­ary Party, came in third with 18.0%, down from 18.2%.

Ri­cardo Anaya, for­mer leader of the cen­tre-right Na­tional Ac­tion Party, ranked sec­ond with 22.3%, up from 20.4% in the prior sur­vey, the poll said. Anaya re­signed in De­cem­ber to pur­sue the pres­i­dency in an al­liance with the cen­tre-left Party of the Demo­cratic Revo­lu­tion.

Ear­lier this week, a top for­eign ad­vi­sor to Lopez Obrador said that the pres­i­den­tial hope­ful would seek close ties with the US, but that it would also pur­sue other trade op­tions.

Vet­eran diplo­mat Hec­tor Vas­con­ce­los echoed Lopez Obrador’s po­si­tion that Mex­ico should sus­pend talks to rene- go­ti­ate the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment un­til a new gov­ern­ment was elected in July, and said Mex­ico had other trade op­tions.

The col­lapse of Nafta would not be a dis­as­ter for Mex­ico, he said, adding that Mex­ico should de­pend less on the US and not in­ter­fere with re­gional neigh­bours.

“We have al­ter­na­tives, if for any rea­son we don’t man­age a good rene­go­ti­a­tion of the free trade deal ,” Vas­con­ce­los said in an interview. “There are other pos­si­bil­i­ties for trade and in­vest­ment in other parts of the world,” such as Europe and Asia, said Vas­con­ce­los, who was for­merly Mex­ico’s am­bas­sador in Den­mark, Nor­way and Ice­land.

The US takes about 80% of Mex­ico’s ex­ports, de­spite nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional trade deals. The gov­ern­ment has stepped up ef­forts to di­ver­sify to other mar­kets in re­sponse to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s threats to scrap the 1990s-era Nafta.

Lopez Obrador, a for­mer Mex­ico City mayor, has a dou­ble-digit lead over his near­est ri­val in opin­ion polls on the July 1 elec­tion. The diplo­mat pushed back at po­lit­i­cal ri­vals who say that Lopez Obrador’s poli­cies would take Mex­ico down a route sim­i­lar to cri­sis-hit Venezuela, but said he did not sup­port US sanc­tions on Venezuela. – Reuters

PIC­TURE: AFP

OUT IN FRONT: Mex­i­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s lead in the run up to July’s elec­tion has in­creased.

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