Mexico’s presidential frontrunner is promising a revolution. Can he deliver?

Mexico’s presidential frontrunner is promising a revolution. Can he deliver? By Ishaan Tharoor.

After two failed attempts, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is on the verge of becoming Mexico’s next president. According to opinion polls, the 64-year-old leftist has a likely insurmountable lead ahead of Sunday’s election, buoyed by widespread anti-establishment sentiment. …

It’s all about the corruption of Mexico’s ruling class:

The signature theme of López Obrador’s campaign has been a sweeping message of anti-corruption, including promises he himself has made to forgo the perks of office and convert Mexico’s lush presidential palace into a public park. His opponents, meanwhile, have failed to shrug off the stigma of graft and abuse of power surrounding their parties and remain linked to a mess of ongoing scandals, as well as the spiraling violence surrounding the country’s notorious drug cartels. Outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto and his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is a widely discredited, lame-duck politician; his appointed successor, José Antonio Meade, is a distant third in polling.

“This election really began to cease being political a few months ago and became emotional,” Mexican essayist Emiliano Monge told the New Yorker. “It is more than anything a referendum against corruption, in which, as much by right as by cleverness, Amlo has presented himself as the only alternative. And in reality he is.” …

Many of his supporters aren’t taking his victory for granted, dreading electoral malfeasance by the powers-that-be. “If they steal it, this city, the country, will explode,” one Amlo supporter told my colleagues at a rally this week. “They have been warned.” …

Leftist yes, but maybe not too much:

His critics cast him in line with Venezuela’s late Hugo Chávez and populist strongmen further to the south. … These concerns, argue many analysts, are somewhat overstated now. “I don’t think Mexico would tolerate another Chavez,” Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China, told this column. …

“If he were seen as a real threat,” Alfredo Coutino of Moody’s Analytics told the Associated Press earlier this month, “I think the markets would be moving very strongly and we would be seeing investment decisions postponed or withdrawn.” That is, thus far, not the case.