Has the right given up power in Mexico?
Mexico's President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, right, is escorted by Mexico's current President Enrique Peña Nieto through the National Palace in Mexico City, July 3. | Mexico presidential press office via AP

MEXICO CITY—In the 2006 and 2012 elections, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO as he is widely known, was a clear winner in his back-to-back bids for the presidency, but voter fraud was rampant and the right-wing candidate was declared the winner in both cases. On his third bid, however, people were prepared for any and all attempts at voter fraud, with widespread efforts to defend electoral integrity. Voters were even told that if the right wing tries to buy their vote, take the money but cast a ballot for the coalition that included López Obrador’s MORENA (National Rejuvenation Movement), anyway.

By Sunday evening July 1, almost immediately after the polls officially closed, the first of the major candidates conceded to AMLO, the other two right-wing candidates soon followed. Approximately two hours later, AMLO was declared the winner. Supporters were stunned, as they had expected and prepared for another attempt at voter fraud or at least a longer wait for the final count. They were left, however, in a state of cautious celebration.

Could it be that the dominant parties had no choice but to let AMLO take the presidency? With him garnering 53 percent of the vote, and the ruling party’s candidate Ricardo Anaya coming in second with only 22 percent—a 31 percent difference—it was clear that they saw the will of the people. The margin of victory was simply too great to overturn through fraud and ballot tampering.

People had had enough; they were disgusted by government corruption, increases in crime, and extreme poverty. They came out in massive numbers, with turnout hitting 63 percent. Prior to the election, polls consistently showed AMLO with at least a 20 percent lead over all the other candidates. The ruling parties knew they could not interfere this time.

Prior to the election, a number of clues began to surface that hinted AMLO would take the presidency and see the traditional ruling class parties yield to his impending victory. Make no mistake, though, it was the people who caused the ruling class to step aside. There was mass mobilization to get the vote out, both from within Mexico and from those living outside of the country. Citizens living abroad also voted for AMLO in high numbers.

Some supporters were worried when AMLO spoke about having to make concessions, and the presence of a number of major business figures in his circle has also raised concerns. The development of AMLO’s campaign platform was headed by Alfonso Romo Garza, a businessman, agro-industrialist with interests in banking, and owner of Vector Casa de Bolsa, the largest fund management company in Latin America. Romo is set to become AMLO’s chief of staff. Many other professionals and businessmen also sat on the platform committee.

The three presidential debates held prior to the elections were disastrous for the ruling parties. They targeted AMLO, attempting to change his narrative of “no lying, no stealing, no betrayal,” but he continued to go up in the polls. The debates actually motivated more people to mobilize voter turnout.

When Election Day came, people were ready to document any instances of tampering, using their smartphones and posting on social media any attempts at voter fraud they witnessed. One video captured a young girl allegedly marking multiple ballots.

Demonstrators hold up signs against the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and National Action Party (PAN) during a Labor Day march in Mexico City’s Zócalo plaza, May 1, 2012. | Dieu Nalio Chery / AP

Does the election mean that the right has walked away and given up power? Not in the least. Before the elections, many members from the mainline parties left to join MORENA; some ran for office and won. This opens up the possibility of the party being co-opted. That is what happened with a previous left party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and decades ago with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which was a true left revolutionary party when it first took power in 1929. In addition to having AMLO in the presidency, MORENA will also have a majority of seats in Congress and in the Senate, but it should be remembered that some of those elected on the MORENA ticket this time were formerly members of the two ruling class parties—PRI and PAN (National Action Party).

There is also the danger of the “Golpe Suave” or “Golpe Blanco”—nicknames for a so-called soft coup d’état, which involves using the judicial system to charge a president or former president with some crime and put them in jail, discrediting them and affecting the trust the people had placed on them. This is what is currently being done in other Latin American countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, and Argentina. The people must be aware of this tactic so that they will not allow themselves to lose faith in their new president.

More immediately, there is great concern about the next five months and how the presidential transition will unfold in Mexico. What the ruling class’s next move may be is a constant question among MORENA’s most active members. There are many lessons from Latin American countries that have elected progressive and left-leaning presidents which the Mexican people should study. They should prepare for what the ruling class may attempt in their effort to regain power.

There is also uncertainty about what impact those politicians who joined MORENA from other parties will have on this new administration. AMLO has assured the people that he will not betray them and urges them to trust him. He also states that he will need the people’s help to make the changes he has promised.

When traveling throughout the country during the next few months, AMLO would do well to repeat the need for people to stay vigilant and be ready to help support his efforts and not to give in to right-wing propaganda like that used in other Latin American countries. There are many who have expressed the understanding that it will not be easy and that they need to continue to be a part of that change they are seeking.


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Rossana Cambron
Rossana Cambron

Rossana Cambron is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. She is active in the peace and immigrant rights movements, enjoys learning about new technology and reading about historical events. She is also a videographer for People's World in Southern California.