Mexicans voted in favour of a transformation
For the first time in Mexico’s history, a left-wing candidate was elected president. The 64-year-old Andrés Manuel López Obrador (also known as AMLO) got 53% of the 29 million votes cast. At the same time, his coalition “We will create history together” won a majority in Congress. The new parity government will be composed of eight women and eight men. “It will be a government for the people”, said the newly elected president.
The Mexicans are demanding change and are hopeful for the new president to introduce it. The same was true in 2000, when Vicente Fox from the Party of National Action (PAN) won the election, receiving 15 million votes. Before that, the country had been ruled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (IPR) for over 70 years. Like eighteen years ago, many of this year’s voters took to the streets with Mexican flags. Some gathered at the monument of the Independence Angel in the heart of Mexico City, others went to the Hilton Hotel near the old town where the winning candidate stayed.
“We are tired of inequality and insecurity in our country”, said one of the AMLO supporters, Renato Flores. “It is time to put an end to corruption and bloodshed”, he added.
Renato is an IT specialist. For several years, his company has been trying to establish cooperation with government institutions. Officials promise Flores that he will get a contract if he gives them a bribe. “Mexico is a rich country, but those at the top never wanted to give those at the bottom a chance”, he explains. “The minimum wage is just over four dollars a day, but you can’t live on it. Workers are entitled to six days of holiday a year, many are forced to work in the shadow economy and there are no unemployment benefits, either. In total, more than 40% of people live in poverty. On top of that, a few years ago the government abolished state pensions. Only thieves and politicians can live here in abundance”, says Renato.
Andrés Martinez, a tourist guide, stood in line at the polling station in Playa del Carmen for two hours. As he explains, he voted for López Obrador because he saw no other option. “José Antonio Meade is a candidate of IPR, the party that has ruled Mexico for the last few years. He had previously worked as an official and certainly knew very well about the financial scams his colleagues were doing. The family of Ricardo Anaya, the candidate of PAN, made a lot of money themselves, in a shady way. In addition, Anaya lives and does business with his wife and children in the United States. And I don’t believe that the replenished can understand the pain of the starving. AMLO was also a right-wing politician before, but as a governor he tried to do something for the people, so I hope he will change our country for the better.
Venezuela of the North
The coalition formed by López Obrador, “Together we will create history”, won over 50% of the votes in the congressional elections. The second place went to the PAN party with over 20% support and IDP finished third, with only 10% of representatives. This means that AMLO can govern himself. However, many members of the Mexican middle class are concerned about the promises made by the new President during the election campaign.
“López Obrador said he would give money to single mothers, scholarships to students from poor homes as well as raise pensions, salaries of doctors, police, military and teachers”, says Rubén López, a citizen of Mexico City. “He has no knowledge of economics. One country has already started giving out money and how did it end up? We laugh with our colleagues that on Monday we woke up in Venezuela of the North”, he says.
Others are concerned that the President-in-Office will stop the construction of the airport in Mexico City, which is bursting at the seams.
“A new airport is needed”, says Ana Torres, a financier. “I often have business flights during the week. They are frequently delayed even by a few hours because there is a traffic jam above the city and the plane cannot land”, he says.
Torres is also critical of the plans to introduce changes to the education system. He believes that AMLO wanted to win the votes of the teachers’ trade union with promises. Until now, the Mexican teachers, when they retired, were allowed to chose their successors themselves. The chosen candidates did not have to pass any exams which keeps the educational level tragically low. Everyone who can afford it, sends a child to a private school and give the state institutions a wide berth.
The poor and Indians in the middle
After the victorious elections, López Obrador tries to calm down his political opponents. “We will not create a dictatorship, not even one in disguise”, he said in his first speech. “Instead, I promise profound changes. There will be freedom of business, speech, association and religion”, he said.
He added that he would recognise the government’s agreements with companies, domestic and foreign banks and would not expropriate them, which he threatened to do during the campaign. However, as he said, it is the ordinary people who are the most important for him: “We will listen to everyone, meet with everyone and respect everyone, but we will focus on the poor and the forgotten, especially in Indian villages”, said the president.
On the picture: Enrique Pena Nieto, President of Mexico (left) and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (right), President of the Electoral Commission.