MEXICO CITY – Four candidates are in the race to become Mexico’s next president in Sunday’s election. Here’s a glance at the hopefuls:
ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR
In his third attempt at the presidency, Lopez Obrador, a 64-year-old former mayor of Mexico City, is the front-runner in most polls.
Lopez Obrador lost the 2006 election by just 0.56 percent to conservative Felipe Calderon, alleged electoral fraud and saw his supporters stage a months-long protest camp on one of the capital’s busiest avenues. In 2012, he lost a less controversial race to current President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Born in the southern Gulf Coast state of Tabasco, Lopez Obrador touts himself as a champion for poor and rural Mexicans. He frequently rails against the country’s entrenched elite and vows to defeat the “mafia of power” he blames for rampant corruption.
For years, many members of Mexico’s business and political class warned that Lopez Obrador was a populist who would set the country back decades, labeling him “a danger to Mexico” and seeking to compare him to the late socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. But this time, Lopez Obrador has moderated his positions and rhetoric somewhat, and both sides have reached a cautious detente late in the campaign even if they are not best buddies.
Besides tackling corruption, Lopez Obrador has proposed decreasing his presidential salary and also granting amnesties to some criminals amid a wave of violence that’s the bloodiest seen in at least two decades.
AFFILIATION: National Regeneration Movement, or Morena. For many years Lopez Obrador was a member of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, but in recent years he broke with the group and founded Morena.
NICKNAMES: “AMLO,” for his initials; “El Peje,” after the pejelagarto fish native to Tabasco state; “Andres Manuelovich,” a sobriquet Lopez Obrador jokingly gave himself in response to allegations his candidacy could have benefited from Russian meddling.
Anaya, 39, a conservative lawyer with a doctorate in political science, is the youngest candidate to make the presidential ballot in modern Mexican history. His supporters see him as a forward-looking technology devotee and an astute student of politics, while critics call him a calculating and manipulative politician.
Anaya got his start in politics at just 18 years old, became a lawmaker in 2012 and later rose to be the speaker of Mexico’s lower house of congress. He assumed the lawmaker post as a result of rules allotting seats proportionally to parties, and has never won a competitive electoral race.
Anaya also served as deputy secretary for tourism and became president of his political party, where critics say he used his position to sideline rivals including former first lady Margarita Zavala.
Born in the State of Mexico, the country’s most populous, Anaya is the standard-bearer for an unlikely right-left alliance known as “Forward for Mexico,” which includes his conservative party and two weakened leftist parties.
Some of his main proposals include the creation of a universal basic income, progressively raising the minimum wage and growing the economy by boosting competition and investment. He accuses Pena Nieto of corruption and says that if elected, he’ll ensure Pena Nieto “faces justice.”
AFFILIATION: National Action Party, or PAN. Lopez Obrador’s former party, the PRD, is part of the coalition.
NICKNAMES: “Boy Wonder,” for his image of being a youthful prodigy; Lopez Obrador famously ridiculed him during a debate as “Ricky Riquin Canallin,” which translates roughly as “Richie Rich the Scoundrel.”
JOSE ANTONIO MEADE
A 49-year-old lawyer with a PhD in economics from Yale, Meade is a longtime technocrat and a five-time Cabinet official who served under two different parties.
Those close to him say public service is baked into his DNA, and Meade has served as secretary of energy (2011), the treasury (2012), foreign relations (2012), social development (2015) and the treasury again (2016).
Even though Meade was not a member of Pena Nieto’s ruling party, he was picked as its candidate on the theory that an outsider would have better luck given widespread discontent over corruption, rising violence and a sluggish economy.
But he has struggled to escape voter anger with the ruling party, which dominated nearly all aspects of Mexican politics for most of the 20th century, and he is seen as running in third place.
Meade’s camp maintains optimism, touting internal polls that contend he’s in second place and saying he can close the gap with plenty of voters who are still undecided.
Meade supports a continued military role in fighting powerful drug cartels, would maintain a controversial education reform and vows to boost schools, hospitals and social programs.
AFFILIATION: Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
NICKNAME: “El Mas Chingon,” a phrase which roughly translates as “the most badass” and was used by Meade to describe himself after the second presidential debate. A video set to cumbia music then circulated on social media using the slogan to promote the candidate.
Rodriguez, 57, is governor of the northern state of Nuevo Leon and the first person to win a Mexican statehouse as an independent.
He broke a 30-year alliance with the PRI to make that gubernatorial run in 2015 and was previously mayor of Garcia, near the city of Monterrey, from 2009 to 2012.
Rodriguez has railed against the traditional political parties and refused government funding for his presidential campaign. During a debate in April, he suggested cutting the hands off politicians who steal. Asked by the moderator if he meant that literally, he doubled down and said he would propose a bill to sanction such punishment.
Polls say he’s trailing in single digits at a distant fourth.
NICKNAME: “The Bronco,” a nod to both his horseman ways and his plain-spoken, maverick persona.