The people of Mexico have spoken, and their votes have deemed previous Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador—aka AMLO—as their next president. The leftist, populist leader will take office in December and has made substantial promises for the next six years.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador secured widespread support among the Mexican people, winning with more than 50 percent of the vote. This marks the largest margin in a Mexican presidential election since the 1980s. Perhaps most significantly, the election of Obrador and his party, signifies the first time in 80 years that a party other than the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) or the National Action Party (PAN) has held power.
As the leader of the Morena (National Regeneration Movement) party, Obrador seeks to represent the poor. Obrador has been the runner-up in the previous two presidential elections in Mexico. In the past decade of campaigning, Obrador has visited almost every town in Mexico, connecting with millions of citizens. This election speaks volumes about how the majority of the population feels about the current state of Mexico and what issues prompted them to vote for him.
Among his many promises, Obrador has vowed to fight violence, poverty, and corruption, especially among the elite and within the Mexican government. As the election approached in Mexico, violence intensified. Obrador has promised to curtail this violence with a new approach (compared to previous administrations). The previous strategy under the PAN party to fight drug cartel violence was to send in the army to fight. However, Obrador campaigned on the premise that this has just escalated the violence, evidenced by the 230,000 deaths since 2007. Rather, Obrador’s new strategies, although vague, have included allowing amnesty for some individuals involved in drug cartels.
Domestic issues have been the center of this election. Over 40 percent of the Mexican population lives at or below the poverty line. Obrador claims that cutting excessive government spending and fighting corruption will provide funding to fight the poverty rampant throughout the country. He has vowed to increase taxes for the wealthy and big businesses.
In line with his anti-elite stance, Obrador has continuously stated throughout his campaign that one of his first acts as president would be to sell the presidential plane, putting the money towards programs for the people. Specifically, Obrador has voiced his plans to increase pensions for the elderly and create more education scholarships for the Mexican youth. Additionally, he has promised to cut down his own salary and live in a townhouse during his presidency, converting the presidential palace to an arts center.
In his victory speech, Lopez Obrador furthered the anti-corruption sentiment he campaigned with throughout the past year. “I won’t fail you. We will apply the three basic principles—do not lie, do not steal and do not betray the people. Viva Mexico!”
While Obrador’s messages have inspired hope for millions of Mexicans, critics have pointed to the lack of detail in his promises and plans as president. Obrador has claimed that the cuts he plans to make in government spending will provide $20 billion a year to contribute to social programs. His critics have argued that the cuts Obrador has proposed would not equate to $20 billion.
What does this election mean for North America? Analysts have deemed the current relations between the United States and Mexico to be the lowest in decades. President Trump and the previous Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, have had a tumultuous relationship, disagreeing over immigration and trade and never actually meeting in person. However, as soon as the news of Mexico’s election was announced, Trump congratulated Obrador in a tweet at 11pm on Sunday, July 1.
“Congrats to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on becoming the next President of Mexico. I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!” (Twitter)
While the initial response from President Trump makes relations between the two leaders look promising, others are unsure. With Trump’s recent threats to impose auto tariffs on Mexico, fears about a trade war are circulating. Although on different sides of the political spectrum, Obrador has stated that he wants a working, but equal relationship with the United States.
“I want a friendly relationship with the government of the United States, but not one of subordination,” he said. “Mexico is a free country, it is a sovereign nation. We will not be subject to any foreign government.”
While Mexicans await to see the promises of Obrador to be fulfilled one thing is certain—the status quo that has dominated Mexico for decades is gone.