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How AMLO’s Power Grab Sows the Seeds of His Own Demise

López Obrador. Imagen:  EFE/ Sáshenka Gutiérrez

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ANDRÉS MANUEL López Obrador (AMLO) is the most brilliant politician of the last half century in Mexico. He managed to stay in the public eye for decades and took advantage of his multiple presidential campaigns to both tour and learn about the country. Additionally, it allowed him to build a powerful political alliance that brought together the victims of the democratic modernization process, and sheltered them under a narrative of revenge against the arrogant “technocrats” of the PRI and PAN political parties.

The result of his efforts was a landslide victory in the 2018 presidential elections, where he scored the largest victory in almost 40 years. Since then, he is building at record speed a new dominant party regime despite his government’s weak record. This regime allows him today to control the two houses of Congress and over two-thirds of the state governments.

The pandemic sank the hopes of many governments abroad, but López Obrador still enjoys high popularity. His political movement is well positioned for the 2024 elections. At the same time, the Mexican opposition — with no competitive leadership — seems reduced and weak.

The Paradox of Morena v. Obradorismo

It is as clear as this: the alliance between Mexico’s president and political party (Morena) seems invincible to those abroad. However, as it usually happens in Mexico, things are more complicated than they seem. Morena (the legacy and vehicle of the Obradorista power) could also be the vehicle to his doom.

Why? Because his political party’s great advantage is also its great weakness: it is a gigantic and disfigured alliance of conflicting interests, whose only common denominator is the figure of AMLO.

In Morena, there are former members of the opposing parties, left-wing radicals, disgruntled conservatives angry, and Chavistas copycats, who openly yearn to replicate the Venezuelan model in Mexico.  All of them shared the party with the European-style social democratic Wokism and are also accompanied by a grotesque assortment of shameless leaders who mobilize civil society for the benefit of the highest bidder. It is, in short, a mixture of ambitions.

The only thing that ties them together is their interest to profit from López Obrador’s popularity, who in turn used Morena as a letterhead to integrate his allies and compete electorally. However, the president knows that acronyms will not be enough to consolidate his regime, he needs a real party, and he does not have one.

Eight years after its creation, Morena continues to be a mere institutional puppet, where no one can bring order, as became clear on July 30 and 31, when Morena‘s militants went to the polls to elect the 3,000 officials who will renew the National Congress, which in turn will approve the call to elect the presidential candidate of the ruling party.

The stakes were high because those who win the National Congress will keep control of the party and will have the privilege of rolling the dice in the next elections in their favor, consolidating themselves as the “heirs” of López Obrador.  Ambitions ran wild, and the result was a mess:

  • In Cuajimalpa, they publicly stuffed ballot boxes with fraudulent votes.
  • In Oaxaca, they rioted,  throwing filled ballot boxes to the ground. One person fainted because of the lawlessness.
  • In Chiapas, there were beatings at the polling places and several ballot boxes were burned.
  • In the State of Mexico, ballot boxes were burned after being doused with gasoline.
  • In Guanajuato, there were multiple conflicts and attempted theft of ballot boxes.
  • In a good part of the country, the lines of voters were notorious and in many cases, people denounced that they went to vote under the threat that if they did not do so, they would lose their scholarships and public benefits.

Confronted with the reality of their ambitions, the Morenistas showed an anthology of cynicism and made it very clear that not only do they not believe in democracy or institutions, but they also do not believe in their fellow party members. They have no loyalty other than that of their own whim and will stop at nothing to get it, with blows and flames, if necessary.

Will Ambition Be López Obrador’s Downfall?

It is indisputable: The Obradorismo exhibited the typical political cannibalism of the left, enhanced with the corporatist practices of the old PRI and oiled with obscene amounts of money to mobilize voters and shock groups. And from the ashes of the ballot boxes a key question arises: will the embarrassment of the frauds committed this weekend be a definitive blow against the president?

The answer is complex: Morena’s internal chaos is not, as yet, a definitive condemnation of the Obradorista project, because even with its obvious flaws and anti-democratic vices, the fact is that it continues to lead the polls and advance throughout the country, because voters still do not forgive the arrogance and corruption of the traditional parties. However, the faint hope that Mexico will be saved from a new tyrannical regime will depend much more on the official cracks than on the genius of the opposition.

Morena, that stroke of political genius that allowed López Obrador to win the Presidency, is his great legacy, but it could also be his condemnation. Time will tell.

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”

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