Written by Brennan Albrecht
The recent presidential elections in Mexico marked a new wave in Mexican politics, and a turn of administration not unlike that seen in the United States in 2016. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won a landslide election, being the first president from the leftist National Regeneration Movement Party (Morena) in Mexico’s history. Since Mexico’s last major constitutional reform in 1926, the right-leaning Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) held overwhelming power for the duration of the 20th century, losing in 2000 for two terms of six years, but regained power in 2012 under Enrique Pena Nieto. Mexico’s rampant economic problems, coupled by troubling bouts of violence and corruption (as evidenced by the disappearance and cover-up of the 43 students in Guerrero in 2014), increased the Mexican people’s distrust of government and desire for major institutional change (Noriega, 2018).
Lopez Obrador (known as AMLO) rose to prominence for his strong-arm approach to dealing with government and bringing reform. The former mayor of Mexico City often participated in and helped organize protests against the national government, a controversy which has followed him through his career (Sieff, 2018). However, his strong Christian beliefs and track record as a reformer in Mexico City have boosted his image as a “Mexico first” friend of the common man (Felbab-Brown, 2018). That image gave him enough popularity to win over 50 percent of the popular vote over three other contenders from major parties, essentially a landslide. This marked departure from the norm in Mexican elections has sparked a new debate about Mexico’s direction as a country, although little can be adequately discussed due to the vagueness of many of AMLO’s platforms. He claims to focus on strengthening Mexican infrastructure to create more jobs, weeding out government corruption, and focusing on new strategies to decrease the influence of organized crime in the country. Some experts compare him to Donald Trump in the way that he was an outsider who used distrust of the government establishment to fuel people to vote for him (Felbab-Brown, 2018).
Election Outcome Graph:
Notes: National polls in Mexico starting in Nov 2017 measured monthly until the election in July 2018. Final numbers are election results.
AMLO’s Platform (Main Points):
- Expand Mexican oil production and exports for economic boost from current level of 1.8 billion bpd (barrels per day) to over 2.6 billion bpd by end of term
- Use money from oil output, slashed government salaries, and other means of revenue to establish or strengthen education spending, pensions for the elderly, and creating infrastructure-centered jobs throughout the country, but particularly the poorer states of southern Mexico
- Combat rising violent crime rates by focusing law enforcement on worst offenders rather than low level offenses
- Fight corruption by reducing large government contracts and reshuffling governmental bodies where possible
The Economist Briefing. “How Andrés Manuel López Obrador will remake Mexico”. The Economist. June 2018.
Noriega, Roger F. “Frustrated Mexicans are set to elect their own populist strongman” The American Enterprise Institute: Foreign and Defense Policy. June 2018.
Sieff, Kevin. “A man who goes by AMLO is the favorite to win Mexico’s presidential election” The Washington Post. June 29, 2018.
Felbab-Brown, Vanda. “Andrés Manuel López Obrador and a new era of politics in Mexico” The Brookings Institute: Foreign Policy. July 3, 2018.