CITY OF MEXICO
On Sunday, Mexicans elected the entire lower house of Congress, nearly half of the country’s governors and most of the country’s mayors in a vote that will determine whether President AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador’s Morena party will win the legislative majority which he needs to continue his “fourth transformation” from Mexico.
Critics have described the election as a chance to prevent the ever popular LÃ³pez Obrador from concentrating more power and weakening checks and balances. The president says the opposition is dominated by conservatives who oppose his campaign against corruption and wasteful spending.
LÃ³pez Obrador has complained that courts and independent regulators have blocked some of his toughest proposals to empower state-owned industries. Opponents fear that if he wins a majority he will attempt to subjugate the courts and regulatory bodies created during Mexico’s decades-long transition to full democracy.
Fifteen of the country’s 32 state governors are at stake, and all 500 seats in the lower house of Congress. Nearly 20,000 local positions, including mayors and city council seats, are being decided in 30 states, and these have often been the races most marked by violence. About three dozen local candidates were gunned down.
Experts say criminal gangs sought to influence the election, while the government attributes most of the killings to other issues and said they were not necessarily linked to the election.
But the country’s electoral authority has said the elections will be among the most closely watched in history, with more than 19,000 registered observers, and that violence in the polling stations themselves is relatively rare.
LÃ³pez Obrador has increased minimum wages and strengthened government assistance programs such as supplementary payments to the elderly, students and training programs for young people. He also created a quasi-military National Guard and gave the military a huge role in building his favorite projects, which include trains, an oil refinery, and airports.
But he did not join a traditional left line. He has maintained friendly, at times strained, relations with the United States and willfully helped prevent tens of thousands of Central American migrants from reaching the US border. He hates public debt or waste.
Opponents describe him as intolerant of criticism and obsessed with a nostalgic view of Mexico from the 1960s, when oil was king and state-owned companies dominated many sectors of the economy. Socially conservative and declared Christian “in the broadest sense,” he angered feminists with his policies, but appealed to many Mexicans by living in austerity.
The elections represent the first mass public events since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country more than a year ago, although the number of cases has declined and Mexico has vaccinated around a quarter of adults. The estimated 350,000 deaths in the pandemic – of which around 230,000 have been confirmed by testing – do not appear to have played a major role in the campaigns, but may weigh on the minds of voters.