Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: presidencia.gob.mx

By THE PULSE NEWS MEXICO STAFF

There seems to be no bounds when it comes to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) tenacious obsession with keeping his leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party in power.

As El Universal columnist and FOROtv news anchor Ana Paula Ordorica pointed out in a May 19 article for Americas Quarterly magazine, even when confronted with allegations that he had unlawfully meddled in Mexico’s upcoming midterm elections, AMLO openly admitted to the charge.

“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked rhetorically to a reporter who confronted him during one of his daily morning press conferences. “Of course I did.”

And, true to form, AMLO then went on to “justify” the admittedly illicit act by claiming that he had to do it because the press was not doing its job, adding that he had a “moral responsibility” to act against corruption (his catch-all allegation against anyone who opposes his dictatorial mandates).

“AMLO’s candid response underscores the contentious moment between Mexico’s electoral officials and the president, as he actively tries to help his party’s candidates ahead of the June 6 mid-term and regional elections,” Ordorica said in her article.

“Polls show that AMLO’s Morena party is at risk of losing its supermajority in Congress while support for its candidates in gubernatorial races has been shrinking. That perspective seems to be making an already-combative president become even more so.”

Ordorica went on to note that while AMLO has managed to maintain his own approval rating at about 60 percent, despite soaring covid-19 deaths and a plunging economy (Mexico’s GDP dropped by 8.5 percent in 2020), a recent poll from Oraculus-MX indicates that the Morena majority in Congress is likely to drop to 45 percent from its current 51 percent with the election.

The June 6 election, which will constitute the largest in Mexico’s political history, will decide 15 of the 32 state governors, 19,469 municipal officials and all 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies.

“The 335-seat supermajority that AMLO’s Morena and its allies won in 2018 had guaranteed the president one representative more than the minimum required to push through constitutional reforms,” Ordorica observed.

“But now the party will need AMLO’s popularity to rub off on its candidates if it wants to keep, let alone expand, its influence.”

Which is why, Ordorica said, that AMLO is bending over backwards to support the party’s candidates, “even if it means breaking campaign laws, including a rule that AMLO himself proposed after he lost the presidency to Felipe Calderón in 2006 and accused then-President Vicente Fox of meddling in the campaign.”

“Losing elections is something AMLO is not good at, as we learned from his reaction to Calderón’s election: He claimed it was illegitimate, led protests and set up a parallel administration,” she wrote.

“Letting his supermajority in Congress slip away now could push the president back toward that combative style he showed then and again in 2012, before changing his approach to the more measured tone that catapulted him into office in 2018.”

Ordorica pointed out that “of the 15 state governorships up for grabs, 12 are located in northern and central Mexico, where AMLO’s approval is weakest.”

“And Morena itself isn’t helping,” she continued.

“Internal divisions are becoming visible, and several of the party’s candidates for state governments are mired in controversy and losing ground. AMLO himself is on the warpath against the National Electoral Institute (INE), which he accuses of being biased against his quest to ‘transform’ Mexico and of using political tactics to hurt his party’s candidates.”

Ordorica admitted that “the opposition is also scrambling to find its footing,” with scandals and deadly armed assaults mounting in all corners.

“While nearly two-thirds of the population looks askance at political parties, approval for the main opposition parties (the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI; the National Action Party, or PAN; and the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD) is far lower than for Morena,” she said.

“As a group, the opposition is divided and has not been able to find a counter-discourse or a charismatic figurehead.”

Meanwhile, AMLO continues to consolidate power with his carefully molded military force (the National Guard) and the elimination of independent checks and balances.

“During the 2018 campaign, AMLO promised to govern as a centrist,” Ordorica said.

“But as soon as he won the election, he canceled the already-two-thirds completed construction of Mexico City’s International Airport (even before his inauguration) and several other investments since, berated the country’s business community, picked fights with international companies, and declared any objection to his way of governing as treasonous.”

But despite these unilateral (and probably illegal) acts, AMLO’s Teflon-coated popularity has remained intact.

“None of that has changed his status as a beloved president, but it has not spared his party,” Ordorica said.

“AMLO is intent on changing Mexico’s institutional framework in profound terms — what he calls the Fourth Transformation — but without control of Congress, he would lose his ability to pursue this agenda during the second half of his term.”

And should the president find himself without a supermajority in Congress, Ordorica said the consequences could be dire.

“The risk ahead is that a weaker Morena could mean a more belligerent president,” she wrote.

“And that is a risk not only for his opponents, but for the country’s institutions.”

 

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