Mexico’s elections on Sunday were the largest to ever take place in the country. 128 seats in the country’s Senate, 500 in the Chamber of Deputies (Mexico’s equivalent to the House of Representatives), the presidency, and additional state and local offices led to 3,400 candidates being voted into office. Poised to take office is president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador (often referred to by his initials, “AMLO”). A leftist populist, “AMLO” seems ready to tackle the issues of violence and corruption that plague the Central American nation.
64-year-old López Obrador won 53% of the vote in Sunday’s election, projected to be at least 30 points ahead of his closest opponent. No margin of victory in the country has come close to that since the 1990s. Third time proved the charm for “AMLO,” who also ran for the presidency in 2006 and 2012. Prior to his first bid, he was the mayor of Mexico City. Championing the 4-year-old Morena party, López Obrador has promised to crack down on government corruption and organized criminal violence that have plagued the country over the last couple of years, while also initiating social welfare programs. He stands in a stark contrast to current president Enrique Peña Nieto, who has been entangled in corruption scandals throughout his term.
Physically standing at all is a feat for a political candidate in Mexico today. 113 politicians have been murdered since September, and hundreds of candidates have dropped from local elections for fear of being targeted next. Though the assassins remain unknown, these murders are orchestrations of a much larger net of organized criminal violence in the country. Last year yielded Mexico’s highest ever murder rate, with 29,168 homicides recorded. It is a dangerous situation for local candidates to announce a stance against organized crime. The cartels maintain their power this way; they control who runs, and therefore they control the election. This promises difficulties for López Obrador’s agenda going forward.
It also promises some chafing in the Mexico-U.S. alliance, an important union for both countries involved. None of the presidential candidates were fans of United States President Donald Trump, who has expressed interest in constructing a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border and expects Mexico to finance it. López Obrador said he was going to be cooperative, but put his foot down at “racist, hegemonic, or arrogant attitudes” from the Commander in Chief. He even published a book last year titled Oye, Trump: Saying Yes to a New Start for Mexico, Saying No to a Wall.
With a lot on his plate and even more eyes watching, AMLO is a beacon of change for Mexico. He will be sworn in on December 1st of this year.