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Regarding democracy in Mexico, two things are becoming increasingly clear. Firstly, López Obrador‘s political alliance is going to lose the mid-term elections. Secondly, López Obrador is not going to recognize his defeat. This places the country at the gates of a profound political conflict, even with the very real possibility of an authoritarian regression that would call into question and even eliminate the democratic advances built since 1978 as part of the transition process.
The signs are clear to anyone willing to observe them. Last week, for the first time, the projections of pollsters such as Massive Caller presented a scenario in which the opposition obtains a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, which would completely paralyze López Obrador’s government and would even prevent it from approving a federal budget of its own choosing. Everything would have to be negotiated, and AMLO doesn’t like to negotiate.
Also last week, the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic initiated evidently politicized investigation proceedings against the candidates of Movimiento Ciudadano and the PRI for the governorship of Nuevo Leon (Samuel Garcia and Adrian de la Garza, respectively), which constitutes a crude set-up designed to reposition the candidate of the pro-Obrador party, Clara Luz Flores, who in the last few weeks fell from first to third place in the polls.
We can affirm with absolute certainty that López Obrador is behind these unfounded investigations, because the President himself boasted about it in one of his morning conferences, when he was asked if he was “meddling” in the electoral process and he answered “of course,” adding with that insufferable tone of the autocrats, that he cannot be “an accomplice of electoral fraud.”
It has not only been the case of Nuevo Leon. President López Obrador and his party have openly and systematically confronted the electoral arbiter, threatening with reforms to eliminate the National Electoral Institute and even pointing out that the application of the law cannot be above the will of the people (i.e. the whim of the tyrant).
Therefore, in view of the evident contempt of the regime towards the electoral institutions and the also evident collapse of its citizen support, there is a very likely scenario where AMLO loses control of the Chamber of Deputies but refuses to acknowledge it.
Continue to mobilize society
More and more Mexicans are talking about the failure and danger of the Obrero regime, and the latest polls are very encouraging for the opposition, but that does not mean that it is time to celebrate or to give up. The elections are three weeks away and many things can happen in that time, the political and convincing work must continue and even intensify.
This seems to be a truism, but it still needs to be mentioned. Mid-term elections normally have much lower turnout levels than presidential elections, and this generates advantages for vote buying and corporate mobilization. For those who have understood the danger of the consolidation of the pro-worker regime, complaining on Twitter or sharing memes on Facebook is fine, but it is not enough. On June 6, we must go to vote, aware that, if AMLO sweeps this election, 2021 will be the last time Mexico will go to the polls under democratic institutions and certainties. It is that clear by 2024 the State party will already be consolidated, so the time is now.
Defend the electoral institutions and the electoral process
Elections in Mexico are organized by close to a million citizens, the overwhelming majority of them volunteers, who participate in the installation of polling stations and the counting of votes as part of a system perfected over decades, which makes electoral fraud essentially impossible.
It is of utmost importance to defend these advances in the face of the barrage of accusations and defamations that the President of the Republic will lead. López Obrador is incapable of recognizing defeat, whenever his party loses he always alleges “fraud” and conspiracy, even accusing his own polling station representatives, as he did in 2006. If on this occasion he again attacks the citizens who organized and participated in the electoral logistics (and he will) it will be necessary to defend them and the integrity of the results.
Understand that the struggle doesn’t end on June 6
That day is election day, but the struggle will not end with the closing of the polls. On the contrary, the post-electoral conflict in the courts, in the media and in the streets will be definitive. It is not enough to go to vote, then it is necessary to defend that vote. The legal part will be up to the teams of the political parties, and it will be defined in the courts. The media and political part corresponds to the citizens and will be defined in the press and in the streets.
Street mobilizations have a symbolic weight that we cannot ignore and that Andrés Manuel himself has taken advantage of very effectively throughout his political career. This time we must give him the gift of the street.
When the time comes, we will have to go out to defend the vote as we did in the 90’s, but with prudence, because surely the left will try to take advantage of any mobilization environment to corrupt the movement, generate violence and infiltrate radical agendas, similar to what we have seen in countries like Chile and Colombia. We cannot allow this.
If Andrés Manuel loses the elections and refuses to recognize the results, he will have only one path: to consolidate authoritarianism and basically carry out a self-coup, ignoring the results and the electoral institutions, in order to cling to power. In the face of that attempt, we will have only one path: to build a true civil resistance, understanding that the coming months will surely not be comfortable or “normal” for the country, but that, for the sake of democracy in Mexico, we cannot silently give up our freedoms.
If Mexico confronts the tyrant, the political situation will surely become more tense and even the economic recovery will be affected, but if we remain silent, the political, economic and social cost will be a thousand times greater. We are approaching the defining moment for democracy in Mexico and the actions of both sides will define the political course of the next decades, choosing between an imperfect democracy, but alive; or a new “perfect dictatorship”, now worsened with Chavista trappings.
Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”