Mexico’s legal campaign season wrapped up Wednesday as the candidates made final appeals to voters ahead of Sunday’s elections, with leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador the clear favourite to win the presidency.
Lopez Obrador made a jubilant entrance into Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium for his final campaign event, telling the cheering crowd of nearly 100,000 people that there is “a contagious and vibrant joy because you find them indicating that we are going to win!”
He pledged not to fight with the U.S. government and said he will reduce the poverty and joblessness that forces Mexicans to emigrate. He also promised to cut the president’s salary in half and eliminate the country’s secret service and intelligence agency.
The No. 2 in the polls, conservative Ricardo Anaya, spoke at a rally in the conservative state of Guanajuato, while ruling party candidate Jose Antonio Meade held events in the northern states of Coahuila and Nuevo Leon.
A final round of polling gave Lopez Obrador a commanding lead in his third try for the presidency. A survey for the newspaper Reforma gave him 51 per cent support, leading Anaya at 27 per cent and Meade at 19 per cent. The poll surveyed 1,200 registered voters and had a margin of error of four percentage points.
Themes of corruption and runaway violence in parts of Mexico have dominated the campaign.
“More of the same, no way, we are tired of it,” said Eloisa Zuniga who arrived at the Lopez Obrador rally with her daughter and sister from the crime-troubled municipality of Ecatepec in Mexico State adjoining the capital. “We want greater security, less violence and more transparency. Let’s see if we get it now.”
It has been dangerous for candidates as well. Risk analysis consultant Etellekt tallied 48 killings of candidates for local offices.
Three days of campaign silence follow Wednesday’s blowout events, the largest of which was Lopez Obrador’s in the capital’s huge stadium. Originally from the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, Lopez Obrador was Mexico City’s mayor in 2000-2005.
He campaigned as the candidate for change, casting himself as the only real chance of ridding the government of corruption and finding peace amid spiralling violence.
“We don’t know what destiny holds for us, but I hope that this is the last campaign of my life. We are going to win,” the 64-year-old said in a video released via Twitter. “I won’t fail you. Together we will make history.”
Anaya sought to rally women to his cause in his closing message.
Meade, weighed down throughout the campaign by the corrupt image of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, asked voters to trust him.
“We have had the best campaign … we have advanced on a trajectory that will take us to victory,” Meade told supporters in the city of Saltillo in Coahuila. “We are at a key moment in our history.”
At Lopez Obrador’s closing rally in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, 61-year-old Miguel Angel Aldama said he had travelled from the city of Puebla to attend. After 25 years supporting Anaya’s conservative National Action Party, Aldama is voting differently this time.
“We need a change and (Lopez Obrador) has said he will fight corruption,” Aldama said. “We’ll see if now the people stop being punished.”
Some 87 million Mexicans in the country and abroad are registered to vote. In addition to picking the president, voters will be choosing hundreds of federal and state legislators, mayors and eight governors.
President Enrique Pena Nieto’s successor will take office Dec. 1.