By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
In yet another scathing international media report on Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) autocratic policies, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an editorial on Tuesday, June 8, calling Mexico’s June 6 midterm elections “a vote for democracy against the president’s radical ambitions.”
In the front-page editorial, titled “Mexico Checks AMLO’s Power” and credited to the WSJ editorial staff, the New York-based business journal observed that “Mexican voters delivered a sharp rebuke to (AMLO’s) ruling (National Regeneration Movement, or) Morena coalition in Sunday’s midterm elections, stripping its two-thirds majority in the lower house of Congress,” thus weakening the president and culling his “ambitions for a radical ‘Fourth Transformation’ (4T) of Mexico.”
“AMLO’s image as the popular caudillo has also taken a hit,” the article said.
“He’s still not a lame duck, but halfway through his six-year single term, the 2024 election campaign is unofficially open, which means that his power is no longer ascendant. When he assails business as the ‘mafia,’ bullies opponents or tries to push antidemocratic laws through Congress, he will now meet more resistance.”
The WSJ went on to say that “the president made this election a referendum on himself, betting that his 60 percent approval rating would overcome his mishandling of covid-19 and an economy that hasn’t grown in two years.”
But while the WSJ acknowledged that AMLO’s “pledge to fight corruption still resonates” with his supporters, it pointed out that many Morena candidates “took a beating among middle-class urban and suburban voters,” including many who had supported him in 2018.
“Morena lost big in the federal district of Mexico City, where AMLO was mayor,” the article noted.
And while Morena or its coalition walked away with 11 of the 15 governorships in play, the WSJ underscored the fact that the leftist party AMLO founded “had to settle for a plurality in the 500-seat lower house.”
“The party will now need cooperation from the Green Party — always a party for hire — to govern,” the editorial said.
And as a consequence of a more pluralistic Chamber of Deputies, the WSJ said that “AMLO’s ambition to rewrite the constitution — whether to reverse market liberalization, especially in energy, or centralize power in the presidency — becomes far more difficult.”
At the same time, the editorial pointed out that the elections should serve as a political lesson for Mexico’s opposition parties.
“(The opposition’s) partial success is due in a large part to the decision by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN) to unite behind common candidates,” the article said.
“Both parties struggle to rebut AMLO’s accusations that they are part of a corrupt establishment. But only by dividing his opponents can he run away with power.”
The WSJ recalled Mexico’s dubious 71 years of autocratic rule under the PRI, noting that when it ended in 2000, the country’s new administration under then-President Vicente Fox “committed to institution building and the rule of law.”
“The political class has often disappointed (the Mexican people),” the article said, “but Sunday’s vote suggests that they still prefer pluralism and democracy over a return to strongman rule,” a direct slam against AMLO, who has consistently tried to annul all checks on his power and to disparage all those who oppose him, including political foes, business leaders, NGOs and journalists.
“If AMLO wants to leave a legacy of progress in the second half of his presidency, acknowledging this message from the Mexican people is the place to start,” the Wall Street Journal editorial concluded.
But, as always, AMLO rejected the sage advise of the WSJ, responding to the editorial in his morning press conference on Tuesday by mocking the publication.
“The people of Mexico voted for democracy over my ‘radical ambitions’?” he asked rhetorically.
“How objective and professional is this newspaper? Maybe the owners and publishers don’t know what the newspaper staff is doing.”
And in his verbal assaults on the WSJ — one of the world’s most highly regarded and respected media — AMLO once again showcased both his stubborn refusal to consider any viewpoint other than his own and his vast ignorance about how newspapers work and what constitutes an editorial, as opposed to a straight news report.