Leer en Español
Mexico is facing the most dangerous moment of its modern political life, trapped between the sword and the wall of an AMLO regime that is becoming more capricious, and an opposition that seems determined to stay inside its bubble, unable to learn from its mistakes.
Lopez Obrador advances in his contempt for institutions
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president of Mexico, enters the final stretch of his term in office with an increasingly capricious and authoritarian attitude. His contempt for institutions, which was evident since his time in the opposition, did not abate after his arrival in office. On the contrary, this repudiation of the decentralization of power and institutional forms becomes deeper and deeper as he accelerates his strategy.
AMLO is going all out. On March 29, he directly proposed to disrupt the institutional structure in charge of guaranteeing the certainty of the elections. In his morning conference, Obrador announced that he will send a constitutional reform initiative so that “there will be no councilors, no magistrates who do not have a democratic vocation […] I will propose that it will be the people who directly elect the electoral councilors and magistrates (of the electoral tribunal).”
In theory, it is about promoting more democracy. In practice, López Obrador would basically submit the electoral institutions to his whim, leveraging on the capacity of vote hauling provided not only by his popularity, but also by the control exercised by the ruling party over most of the state governments and over the structure of handouts operated by the federal government.
And this initiative is not an isolated fact; whims have become a pattern.
On March 21, Obrador inaugurated a supposedly international airport, from which less than 10 flights a day depart despite the fact that it absorbed an investment of more than $10 billion dollars, adding the costs of the work and those of canceling the airport being built by the previous president (some estimates place the real figure in the range of $25 billion dollars).
On April 10, a process of “revocation of mandate” will take place, evidently unconstitutional and ironically promoted by López Obrador himself, whose supporters gathered signatures and support for a recall referendum which they intend to turn into a “ratification of mandate” to legitimize the president’s political radicalization.
In the meantime, Obradorism is promoting a constitutional reform that would almost completely destroy the energy market, revive the absurd monopoly of the Federal Electricity Commission, and would call into question not only the future sustainability but also the very energy viability of the country in the short term. All this seasoned with the almost permanent defamation against the media and its political opponents.
In short, we are witnessing a circus that is becoming less and less democratic and more and more dictatorial.
The opposition is locked within its bubble
On the other side of the abyss, the opposition remains enclosed in its bubble. Almost four years after the 2018 elections, the traditional parties still do not understand why they lost and are therefore unable to correct the factors that led them to that defeat.
The opposition is entrenched in the anti-Obradorist talking points, and they have added small successes, such as the conquest of Twitter. However, in the real world, their advances are basically null. Despite the scandals and the crisis, which would have demolished any other government, the Mexican opposition is not growing.
Polls show that the anti-Obradoristas account for approximately 40% of the population, and they have not been able to break through that ceiling. In terms of party identification, Morena (Obrador’s party) outnumbers the main opposition parties by almost 3 to 1. In the race for the 2024 presidential elections, the pro-government candidates maintain a wide advantage in terms of awareness and popular support.
And things are not about to change, because the opponents are in love in the Narcissus style, engrossed with the reflection of their faces in the bubble where they are enclosed and where they “confirm” a series of virtues that society simply does not recognize.
Intoxicated in this mirage, the opposition becomes more and more frivolous, betting on competing against the antics of the regime, but without the grace and style of López Obrador. Two anecdotes are enough.
A few months ago, President López Obrador bleated like a sheep in his press conference, “to be funny.” Months later, Lilly Tellez (the main opposition legislator) used the recording of those bleats in the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies, once again, “to be funny.”
On March 29, while López Obrador was proposing a reform that would destroy the electoral institutions, the opposition senators were happily showing off the Lego model they had made to parody the mansion of AMLO’s son in the United States. Smiling, happy, like naughty children.
Yes, Mexico is facing the most dangerous moment in its modern political life. The country lives a real threat of authoritarian regression. The unleashed violence of organized crime and the growing chaos that feeds on social cynicism spike, while government officials and opponents exchange antics in a war of jokes that, instead of being funny, are disgraceful.
Months ago we suspected that Mexico had the worst government and the worst opposition, at the worst moment. Today, it is no longer a suspicion, but a diagnosis.
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”