You will hear a lot about these Mexicans in 2018

Over the next few months, the Mexican presidential campaign will hit the front pages.  The vote is in early July.

So let me introduce you to some of the names and the one issue that the winner will face.  The three major players are:

- José Antonio Meade-Kuribrena of the PRI.  This is the party that governed Mexico for over 70 years and the political home of incumbent President Enrique Peña-Nieto.  They are often known as the "partido oficial," or a cynical reference to their control of the bureaucracy.  They're the Mexican version of the "Deep State" party. 

- Ricardo Anaya-Cortés of the PAN.  This is a conservative party very popular in the north of Mexico.  A friend of mine calls them "los republicanos mexicanos," a reference to their ideological similarity to the GOP.  They are often accused of being too close to the Catholic Church and of promoting states' rights.

- Andrés Manuel López-Obrador of the left-of-center MORENA. 

This election, as my friend Allan Wall explained, is unusual because of political coalitions that have brought parties from different corners to support the PAN and MORENA.

One of these three men will be next president of Mexico.

At the moment, López-Obrador is leading in some polls, in large part because he's been around for a long time.  He was mayor of Mexico City and a candidate in 2006 and 2012 (Consulta Mitofsky poll, AMLO 27.1%, Anaya 22.3%, and Meade 18.0%).

At the moment, it's too early to tell, but I'd keep an eye on Mr. Meade, because he will have the PRI's electoral machinery on his side.

Meade and Anaya would be fairly conventional presidents.  López-Obrador promotes himself as the man who will stand up to Trump, but we're not sure what that really means.  López-Obrador was always opposed to NAFTA, whereas Meade and Anaya support it.

No matter who wins, he will inherit a violent nation, as my friend Patrick Corcoran wrote:

After a three-year rise in murders, 2017 was the most violent year in Mexico's recent history. 

The more than 29,000 murders registered by the National Public Security System represented a 27 percent jump from 2016, and a nearly 60 percent increase since 2014. 

As is usually the case, organized crime was the chief driver of this wave of bloodshed.

Every conversation I have with Mexican friends or visitors confirms that "inseguridad" or insecurity is issue number one.

PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

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