Mexican ex-presidential candidate Meade to launch consultancy

10 August 2018 4 min. read

José Antonio Meade, the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI,) has set the wheels rolling on his plans to open a consulting firm after conceding defeat to Andrés Manuel López Obrador last month. 

According to sources close to José Antonio Meade, after travelling to Acapulco and then onto New York, he has returned to Mexico with plans to open a private consulting firm. After a fierce campaign in which Meade played the ‘common man for the common good’ policy – distancing himself from the political elite of his own party – Meade has been recoiling in his losses. 

Meade comes from a migrant background and has benefitted from the fruits of his labour, working hard to climb up the political and economic ladder. He began his studies at the Technical Institute at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (ITAM) – the most sought after Mexican certificate – with a double degree in law and economics. Out of university, he moved on to a role in the public service as a planning analyst.

By 1997, Meade had enrolled in a doctorate of economics at the prestigious Yale University. He has spanned a widespread career served in roles far-stretching from economist to lawyer to international diplomat, serving in posts from the Director General of Banrural – the National Bank of Rural Credit – and under the PRI as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Social Development, Secretary of Energy and twice as Secretary of Finance and Public Credit.

Throughout the recent Presidential campaign his style was relaxed and his demeanour was cool. While it was not enough to gain the overwhelming attention of the Mexican public, it did see him win 16% of the vote. It was a steep hill to climb when he took over the leading position of the PRI, a party plagued with anti-establishment sentiment for the ruling political class. 

The policies which Meade forwarded were in line with the want of the general public however. He never personally attacked the other candidates, which has become commonplace on the other side of the border. Under a Meade Government, Mexico would have seen improved conditions for women in the workforce, tackling corruption and putting a chokehold on drug cartel finances. 

Mexican ex-presidential candidate Meade to open consultancy in wake of election loss

All good proposals but not enough to garner attention or win an election. The flair was left to the more extreme parties which battled it out and left Meade to his own devices. In the wake of the loss, Mexican newspaper SDP Noticias posted an article analysing Meade’s ability in the current political environment – one where he is no longer a part of the establishment – to begin a successful consulting firm.

The editorial piece stated; “It will not be easy for Meade - neither for so many well-known high-ranking PRI public officials, many of whom were educated at ITAM or abroad - to succeed in consulting, which is a business largely dependent on relationships that are held in political power. Does Meade have them? With the collaborators of the new government, he will have very few strong relations. And surely they will be bad in general. The world of Meade no longer exists. The environment in which he was born and grew as an exceptional official disappeared.”

The world that the author is talking about is a world of privilege, the world of the Mexican elite. And perhaps that’s not a bad thing. To succeed as a consulting, yes, you need to be able to compete with other firms to receive contracts and having contacts within the government helps this endeavour.

“It will not be easy for the current members of the government to reinvent themselves as consultants. The problem for them is that they stayed, all, hanging from the barbed-wire fence and with the irremediably damaged eggs,” the newspaper stated.

But also – and perhaps more importantly – to succeed as a consultant, you also have to be adaptable and that will be the challenge that will be the greatest test for Meade. He has a wealth of connections from his time in public office and has cultivated an already extensive client list from his private agenda.

Incoming President Amlo has already extended a hand to the less victorious candidates on the ballet by offering to collaborate. Perhaps Meade’s new consulting firm is a way for Meade to return to politics in a meaningful way and help implement his policies through a private lens. If Meade doesn’t have the beginnings of a good consultant – an economist, lawyer and a diplomat – then it will be hard pressed to find someone who does.