And then there is the social media influencer who wants to become a member of Congress by promising “breasts for every woman” among other things. On her platform, she proposes breast implants that are covered by the public health system.
That’s only a small part of the stage as Mexico prepares for Sunday’s midterm elections, the largest in the country’s history. More than 93 million registered voters will vote for candidates for more than 21,000 elected offices at all three levels of government.
López Obrador is not on the ballot, but Mexican analysts, experts, a former president and a former presidential candidate consulted by CNN say the election is tantamount to a referendum on the 67-year-old president, a populist, left-wing political veteran and former Mexico mayor of the city, who won the presidency on the third attempt in 2018.
Luis Carlos Ugalde, former president of the Federal Election Institute, says this election is about one thing: “The voters are basically divided between those who love [President] López Obrador and those who don’t trust him. “
Uncontrolled violence before the vote
Lopez Obrador came to power with a promise to announce “hugs instead of gunshots”, but has not yet been able to contain gun violence in Mexico. A wave of political assassinations rocked the current campaign season leading up to the June 6 elections in a country that has been devastated by organized crime turf wars over the past two decades.
“The country is at peace. It is governed. There is no risk of instability,” said López Obrador on Tuesday. But he also acknowledged what has become painfully apparent to millions of Mexicans. “We are exposed to the scourge of violence every day,” said López Obrador.
Afraid of a president who is too powerful
Even before López Obrador took office, Mexico suffered from another “pandemic”, as the country’s former health minister Juan Ramón de la Fuente described. He referred to gun violence, a challenge that has only gotten worse during the current administration. For comparison: in the first four months of 2018 (before López Obrador took office) there were 10,579 homicides. The number rose to 11,307 in the same period in 2019 and to 11,736 between January and April 2020, according to government figures.
Rubio, also a former advisor to Mexico’s finance minister, says these elections are about nothing less than the survival of Mexican democracy. He and other analysts criticize what they believe to be authoritarian tendencies that López Obrador has shown.
At various times the president has railed against the judiciary, independent electoral officials, the central bank and the free press, not to mention opposition parties who, despite major differences, have allied to prevent the president from increasing his legislative power.
López Obrador has long rejected criticism of his attitude towards state controls. “We said before he took office that a transformation is necessary to undo the collapse of Mexico,” he said during one of his daily morning press conferences, where he often pokes fun at political rivals.
Rubio warns that if López Obrador’s Morena party wins an absolute majority in the lower house this Sunday, the president will have “a clear path to strengthening his” [political] Project, which means recreating the 70s, which is a way of governing that he is very comfortable with. “The country through an all-powerful party while maintaining the outward appearance of a democracy.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a Conservative who became the first non-PRI president in more than 70 years in 2000, says he has a coalition of the PRI, his own Party of National Action (PAN) and The Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) can prevent López Obrador from consolidating his power.
“The aim is to get Mr López Obrador to think before making suggestions, like the daily jokes he comes up with,” said Fox.
A former first lady of Mexico goes further. Margarita Zavala, wife of the former Mexican President Felipe Calderón (2006-12), who led an unsuccessful presidential election campaign as an independent candidate in 2017, sharply criticizes López Obrador, who, in her opinion, is dictatorial.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that we are at the crossroads between democracy and dictatorship. We have been talking about wrong decisions, deaths, [Covid-19] Infections, appalling budgets, an additional millions of people who went poor, an economic downturn, lack of progress in infrastructure and two years of lies, “Zavala said in an interview with CNN.
Part of his appeal has to do with the fact that many middle and lower class Mexicans (especially his grassroots and those who voted for him) feel that they are for the first time in decades a president from and for the people that really listens to you and understands you. His daily press conferences often serve as a conduit to reinforce his views and political platform rather than answering political questions from the press.
Luis Antonio Espino, a Mexican communications consultant and author of a book on the president, says López Obrador’s communications strategy was effective in changing the perception of reality in his favor, allowing people to perform according to his intentions, not according to him Evaluate results.
“The complexity of our country and Mexican society is reduced to the same narrative that he uses on a daily basis […] . He replaces communication with propaganda to manipulate people’s perception and create a parallel reality that is always convenient for him, ”Espino told Mexican news website MVS Noticias.
After telling them what they want to hear, he adds, “beyond inflation”.