By July 15, we will know who will be the next presidents of Mexico and Colombia. Americans usually don’t care about these elections, but 2018 may be one of those years when results matter in two of the largest GDPs in Latin America.
Let’s go to Colombia.
With 98 percent of the votes counted, conservative 41-year-old Iván Duque nailed down 39 percent of the vote, according to Colombia’s national electoral agency.
He was followed by the progressive 58-year-old economist and ex-mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, with 25 percent.
Duque is in a strong position for round 2, but 36%, the ones who did not vote for #1 or #2, will now have to choose between the two finalists.
I am not familiar with the other candidates and whom they will endorse.
Nevertheless, this is now down to Duque and Petro. The big question is this: which one can persuade a majority of Colombians?
Stay tuned, but I like Duque’s chances.
Down in Mexico, conventional wisdom was that leftist Andrés López-Obrador was going to win. He may, but don’t bet on that “caballo,” or horse, just yet.
A couple of weeks ago, a Mexican friend explained what he called “Plan B,” an effort for voters to vote for whoever is #2 or rising in the polls. According to my friend, Mexican voters are planning to wait until the last moment to cast their ballots, when they have a good sense of who is #2. It is their hope that #2 gets the support of #3 and #4 and overthrow López-Obrador.
“Plan B” may be a Mexican dream, but it appears to be working. “Número 2,” Ricardo Anaya, a right-center candidate, is gaining and closing the gap against López-Obrador. The latest polls show that the lead is narrowing:
Less than two months before Mexicans vote, Lopez Obrador’s support grew to 39 percent from 38 percent in the previous poll at the end of March, according to polling firm Parametria, but his lead narrowed to 14 points from 18.
The possibility of a victory by Lopez Obrador, who has threatened changes to the country’s landmark reform to lure private investment to its energy markets, has spooked some investors, helping send the peso currency down more than 3 percent in April.
Support for Ricardo Anaya, the candidate of the “For Mexico in Front” coalition of three parties from the right and left, grew to 25 percent from 20 percent the month before. In a recent TV debate, he portrayed himself as the only alternative to the frontrunner.
So far, Mexicans, specifically the large middle class and business sector, are turning to Anaya as the alternative.
Unlike Colombia, where a runoff is coming between right-center Duque and left-center Gustavo Petro, Mexicans have one chance to stop leftist López-Obrador.
My guess is that Duque will win in Colombia and bring back ex-president Alvaro Uribe’s successful policies.
As for Mexico, I am not sure that Anaya will close the gap, but lots of candles are burning in Mexican homes, hoping it is so.
It would be a great summer for the U.S. if right-center candidates win in Mexico and Colombia!