Andrés Manuel López Obrador won a landslide victory in the Mexican elections on Sunday. This is a momentous occasion, in the way that the election of Donald Trump was a momentous occasion.
There are some ways in which the two leaders are similar. They both have a very public disdain for the media. They both attacked the corruption and incompetence in their respective countries’ governments.
There are differences, however. One is in political experience; AMLO (his nickname, from his initials) was the Mayor of Mexico City from 2000 through 2005. Another is in political philosophy; while it is difficult to pin a consistent philosophy to Donald Trump, Lopez Obrador is an avowed Marxist.
He has spent recent years attempting to change his political image from that of a hard-left firebrand to a moderately left pragmatist. By shedding the communist image he was able to focus on issues seen as key by Mexican citizens. From the Dallas Morning News:
Lopez Obrador (took) advantage of Mexico’s two impending issues: corruption and drug-related violence. Last year three governors were arrested on corruption charges and 11 are currently being investigated. Meanwhile, cartel violence is responsible for 29,898 deaths in 2017. This does not look good on the incumbent government, led by Enrique Peña Nieto.
Lopez Obrador has some Mexican businessmen concerned; there are many comparisons made between Lopez Obrador and Hugo Chavez, comparisons which look reasonable when AMLO states that he wants to draft a new, moral Constitution for Mexico (Yucatan Times) and attacks the Mexican Supreme Court. (Bloomberg). Others say it is merely rhetoric, that he has matured and is merely looking to consolidate his power base before enacting needed – but limited – changes.
There is no way to know beforehand in what direction AMLO will take his country. What is clear, however, are his economic policies. Beyond the general Marxism, Mexico’s new President is a strong believer in protectionism. As another plank of his campaign platform was his willingness to fight back against Donald Trump on behalf of Mexico, it is reasonable to believe that NAFTA talks took a dramatic turn for the worse with the election and that the heralded “pro-US renegotiation of NAFTA” will result instead in the trade pact being disbanded or negotiated instead in Mexico’s favor. (Forbes)
If AMLO has moderated over the years, there will be a few years of contention between Mexico and the U.S. If he has not, we may face an economic and violent crisis on our Southern border, as what happened in Venezuela happens in Mexico. In either case we are likely to experience an adverse effect on our trade.