Yesterday’s elections in Mexico resulted in an easy victory for Andrés Manuel López Obrador (often referred to as just ‘Amlo’) for the presidency, gaining 53% of the vote. The two significant features are that he is a leftist and that the candidate of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) that has ruled the country for most of the last century came in third with just 16% of the vote. Amlo is a friend of Jeremy Corbyn and is likely to make fighting poverty the centerpiece of his policies.
Mexico’s president-elect vowed to rule for people of all social classes, all sexual orientations and all points of view. “We will listen to everyone. We will care for everyone. We will respect everyone,” he said. “But we will give priority to the most humble and to the forgotten.”
Exit polls also suggested the party Amlo founded in 2014 – the Movement for National Regeneration or Morena – had won at least five of nine gubernatorial races, with the winners including Mexico City’s first elected female mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum. “We won! We’ll rescue the City of Hope,” she wrote on Twitter.
As an estimated 89 million voters descended on polling stations on Sunday it became clear that Mexicans – fed up with political sleaze, soaring violence and poverty – had overwhelmingly voted for change and to reject the only two parties to hold the presidency since the end of one-party rule in 2000.
Delfina Gómez, a close Amlo ally who is running for a seat in Mexico’s senate, told the Guardian she believed corruption-weary voters were backing Amlo and Morena because they wanted “a radical transformation in the way politics is done, and in politicians themselves”.
Gómez called Amlo a thrifty, upstanding man who would lead “a government of austerity and honesty”: “He finds it shameful that someone might be flaunting their wealth whilst others are dying of hunger.”
Amlo has repeatedly pledged to make eradicating corruption the main focus of his presidency, once he is sworn in on 1 December this year. “We will get rid of … this cancer, that is destroying this country,” he vowed at his final campaign rally.
Analysts also expect him to pursue a less aggressive and less militarised approach to Mexico’s 11-old ‘war on drugs’ which has claimed an estimated 200,000 lives and is widely viewed as a calamity. During the campaign, Amlo has argued “you cannot fight violence with more violence, you cannot fight fire with fire” and proposed an amnesty designed to help low-level outlaws turn away from a life of crime.
I was surprised that he will be sworn in only on December 1. That seems like a long transition period. I think that the almost three-month period in the US is far too long but this is even worse.
Donald Trump has sent his congratulations but the US relationship with Mexico, already testy because of the wall and Trump’s pledge to renegotiate NAFTA, may get worse. Apparently Amlo is less of an internationalist than his predecessors and so might be less supportive of NAFTA but he has spoken of Trump’s family separation policies as “arrogant, racist and inhuman”, which of course it is.
After yesterday’s election, Mexicans will now wait anxiously for the result of the World Cup soccer quarter-final game against Brazil going on right now. The score is 0-0 at half time.