President-elect Lopez Obrador shoulders Mexicans’ hopes for transformation

Tuesday, 2018-07-03 12:56:57
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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves as he addresses supporters after polls closed in the presidential election, in Mexico City, Mexico July 1, 2018. (Reuters)
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NDO – Winning more than 53% of the votes, twice as many as the number of votes for the next closest candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been elected as the new President of Mexico. Eradicating corruption and violence is among the commitments that Lopez Obrador has vowed to undertake immediately after taking office.

The largest general election in Mexico’s history took place successfully, electing the President for the 2018-2024 tenure, alongside 128 senators, 500 federal representatives, nine state governors and nearly 3,000 district heads in 30 of the 32 states. 64-year-old Lopez Obrador, who represents the “Together We’ll Make History” leftist coalition and is often referred to by the initials AMLO, will formally come into power from December 1, 2018.

The other presidential candidates, including Jose Antonio Meade, a representative of the “Todos por México” (Everyone for Mexico) coalition with the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) as its core; Ricardo Anaya, a candidate from the “Por México Al Frente” (The Forward Front for Mexico) coalition; and Jaime Rodriguez, an independent candidate, acknowledged defeat and formally congratulated Lopez Obrador. Speaking to the press after the initial results of the vote count were announced, Lopez Obrador pledged to respond to the trust of millions of Mexicans, while bringing “profound changes” to the country and listening to people from all walks of life, especially the poor and vulnerable groups. Lopez Obrador argued that violence and corruption are the main causes of social and economic inequalities.

As for many of the 89 million eligible Mexican voters in the general elections on July 1, the elections has the appearance of a referendum on the country’s political and economic directions in the years ahead. According to election officials, nearly 13 million voters, aged 18 to 23, cast their ballots for the first time in this year’s polls, playing an important role in choosing the next path for the country amid the challenges posed by corruption, violence and drugs in Mexico, evidenced by the killing of two politicians on general election day. According to consulting firm Etellekt, since September 2017, at least 145 politicians have been murdered, most of whom were local politicians who would not compromise with drug cartels.

During his election campaign, President-elect Lopez Obrador repeatedly pledged to eradicate corruption. He labelled corruption as a “cancer that destroys the country.” Obrador even promised to sell presidential planes and turn the presidential palace into a public park. Analysts have stated that the leader named AMLO will have a more flexible approach to the long-running fight against drugs that has led to the deaths of more than 200,000 people in Mexico. He insisted that violence could not be used to combat violence, adding that amnesty will be the way to help criminals to escape from the “criminal life.” President-elect Lopez Obrador also committed to strengthening the power of the domestic market and boosting domestic production, so that Mexicans will be able to work and be happy in the places where they were born.

In addition to domestic challenges, Mexico’s new leader will also have to face a number of issues that need to be tackled in foreign policy, including the relations with neighbouring United States, which have worsened to their lowest level since US President Donald Trump came to power. Mexican President-elect Lopez Obrador announced his plan to create a new relationship with the US based on mutual respect, while pledging to protect Mexican immigrants living and working in the US. Congratulating Obrador on his victory, US President Donald Trump said that he looked forward to working with the new President of Mexico, affirming that there remained a lot of things to do to bring benefits to both the US and Mexico.

Meanwhile, the re-negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA, including the US, Canada and Mexico), the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the US, or President Trump considering imposing taxes on automobiles imported from Mexico, are the thorny problems awaiting President-elect Obrador.

The historic victory of the left-wing candidate after decades in Mexico shows that the people of the Central American nation expect a major step of transformation in the country. That expectation, and also responsibility, is now placed on the shoulder of President-elect Obrador, who always recognises himself as a “representative of change.”