Sunday will mark the second presidential debate for candidates vying to be the next political leader of Mexico. The debate will be televised and take place in the border city of Tijuana.
The tone of front runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador hasn’t particularly been warm toward the Trump administration, and a win from that camp could signal a monumental shift in relations between the U.S. and Mexico.
Tony Payan, the director of the Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, says President Donald Trump and López Obrador are in some ways opposites.
“I would characterize Mr. Trump as a populist from the right,” Payan says. “In Mexico, Mr. López Obrador is equally populist but catering to the left.”
López Obrador just gave a major speech in which he praised Fidel Castro.
“I think we’re up for a very turbulent couple of years until the 2020 presidential election in the United States,” Payan says. “Mr. López Obrador began his campaign in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas for a couple of reasons.”
First, López Obrador needed to connect with the right-of-center voters in northern states – and he’s doing very well there.
“These are mostly PAN states,” he says. “So there’s clearly a reaction in those states towards all the rhetoric against the wall. And the other thing is, this is the exact place, just a stone’s throw from the U.S.-Mexico border where he said that Mexico would no longer be the piñata of Mr. Trump. And that was quite symbolic because I think many Mexicans who believed for very long that there was a strategic partnership between the two countries are upset because Mr. Trump obviously considers Mexico more of an adversary, rather than an ally.”
Payan says Mexico’s political parties are creating some highly unusual coalitions in the upcoming election.
Written by Jen Rice.