Elections in Mexico: Will López Obrador pay for his mistakes?

A Crucial Moment For the López Obrador Government, the Midterm Elections Are on June 6.

Cover of The Economist magazine about López Obrador

The magazine 'The Economist' describes AMLO as someone "hungry for power that must be stopped." Photo: The Economist

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: Elecciones en México: ¿Pagará López Obrador por sus errores?

Mexico is on the eve of its midterm elections, three years have already passed since Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the presidency and obtained a power that no president had seen in decades. In 2021, after the pandemic, violence, the concentration of power, and the subway accident, Amlo's favorability has changed.

Will the "López Obrador effect" be repeated?

In 2018, the so-called "López Obrador effect" attracted votes at all levels for the candidates of his party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), achieved a majority in both houses of Congress, the governorships of 6 of the 32 entities of the country and a landslide victory in the presidency. Today, the president encouraged the "Massive vote for Morena" to benefit his candidates and maintain the majority in the Chamber of Deputies and local congresses.

On June 6, 500 deputies will be elected. Projections from Oraculus, an observatory that analyzes the results of the main polling houses in Mexico, indicate that the official party will lose strength due to the falling popularity of the president. However, they predict that, despite this, Morena will maintain the majority in the lower house with a range of between 283 and 340 deputies, compared to the current 314. The opposition would achieve between 136 and 192 deputies, compared to the current 137.

There are also gubernatorial elections in 15 of the 32 states, Morena is likely to get 8 of them, according to the CEDE and Oraculus. However, only 3 are assured victories for the party. Its future is bleak, especially in the north of the country, a region traditionally aligned with the right and with important industrial centers.

The sui generis union of the opposition

The year 2000 saw the democratic opening in Mexico, the first two governments (2000-2006, 2006-2012) were of the right-wing National Action Party (PAN), while in 2012 the veteran Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) returned to power with Enrique Peña Nieto. In 2006 and 2012 López Obrador was a candidate of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, while in 2018 he was nominated by Morena, the Labor Party (PT), and the Social Encounter Party (PES), after breaking with the PRD.

In this way, the PRI, PAN (both from the right), and the PRD (from the left) became the opposition. For the midterm elections of 2021, they decided to create a coalition against López Obrador called "Va por México". The coalition has been controversial due to the profound ideological differences between the three parties, especially the PRD, in addition to having the support of the business sector with figures such as Claudio X. González and movements such as the National Anti-AMLO Front.

For years, López Obrador denounced that the PRI and PAN had an alliance to defend the interests of "the power mafia", a group that AMLO has accused of concentrating the country's wealth, as well as corruption. This alliance was never publicly recognized by both parties, which is why, for AMLO, the "Va por México" coalition is proof that his complaint was real. The discourse of the electoral campaigns has been based on the figure of the president. On this side, the sui generis union of the opposition parties, the business class, and journalists linked to previous governments is emphasized as a way of "maintaining privileges", at least from López Obrador's point of view.

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López Obrador "the false messiah"

On the opposition side, the campaign highlights the deaths linked to the pandemic (240,000 deaths as of June 2, according to CONACYT data), the null economic or fiscal support for large companies in the country, the accident of Mexico city's subway, the replacement of Seguro Popular (created by the PAN) for another program, the expenses of major government projects (Mayan Train, Felipe Angeles Airport, Dos Bocas Refinery), the purchase of a refinery In Texas, the attacks on the National Electoral Institute, the intention to control the Bank of Mexico, the social programs that the opposition considers a failure, in addition to several unkept promises. " Va por México" has promised to stop the president's projects and put a stop to his policies at the legislative level.

This rhetoric fits well with that of the British magazine The Economist, which did not go unnoticed in Mexico. The magazine describes AMLO as someone "hungry for power that must be stopped," although it also notes that he is more measured than other populist leaders such as Jair Bolsonaro. It also criticizes his policies, public projects, and the president's response to the pandemic (the magazine estimates that there is a difference of 477,000 deaths compared to official data). López Obrador received the article as a direct attack against him and, curiously, the cover of the magazine has been converted in favor of the president on social media. Also on the internet, the cover of the same magazine during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto with the title "The rise of Mexico" has gone viral again.

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