López Obrador resists wear and tear and maintains his approval in the middle of the mandate

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The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, last Friday in his office.
The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, last Friday in his office.Presidency of Mexico

Andrés Manuel López Obrador will serve three years at the helm of the Mexican government next Wednesday, a mandate he assumed after winning the elections with ease with the purpose of “transforming the country” and promoting structural changes. The president reaches the middle of the six-year term with several initiatives underway and a victory in the federal elections last June that, however, marked the limits of his project in Congress. It does so amid the usual barrage of criticism from the opposition, which has not yet recovered from the disaster of 2018, and above all with approval ratings that show its enormous resistance to the wear and tear of power. In most opinion studies, even during the most tense controversies that have surrounded his administration, the president has an acceptance close to or greater than 60%.

The president, who for decades was a leader in opposition to the governments of the PRI and the PAN, was always, for millions of Mexicans, a symbol as well as a political leader. This is probably why his ability to maintain a popularity that exceeds the evaluation of his own work, that of the federal Executive or the activities of his formation, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena). For Roy Campos, at the head of the Mitofsky consultancy, talking about the acceptance of López Obrador is almost commonplace. “Every two out of three approve it, but that has to do with the achievements, not with their party, but with the personal part. It is a personal position rather than a government position ”, he points out.

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This is in some way the paradox of the president and his political project, the so-called Fourth Transformation. Its valuation during the last week is 65.9%, according to the measurement of the Campos firm. These data are usually well above, sometimes more than 15 points, than Mexicans think, for example, about security problems or eminently political measures. This week the head of state received criticism for the publication of a decree, which had not been announced or publicized, with which the works promoted by the Government such as the Mayan Train or the Felipe Ángeles international airport are shielded by declaring them a security matter national. A few hours passed and his decision to reconsider the appointment of former Secretary of Finance Arturo Herrera as governor of the Bank of Mexico was known to nominate Victoria Rodríguez Ceja, an official with a technical profile without experience in monetary policy.

To that are decisions such as the transfer of powers to the Ministry of National Defense, the electricity reform or the harsh criticism of the feminist movement before March 8 or its support for Félix Salgado Macedonio. Beyond the gales, apparently, nothing took its toll. “If we analyze the first part of the mandate, we see that it is recovering from the great falls, with the pandemic, the son of Chapo Guzmán, feminism … And suddenly it recovers the levels of the beginning of management”, reflects Roy Campos. With these premises, what can weaken you? Corruption scandals continue to occur in Mexico, the elimination of which is precisely one of the president’s flags. “The perception is that there is less corruption in López Obrador,” continues the analyst. Now it is not affected by the agreement on infrastructures or inflation, despite the fact that the increase in prices is already worrying and in the first half of November it exceeded 7%.

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One of the unknowns is whether, in the medium term, the president will be able to instill that strength in the party, which is already mired in the 2024 succession debate, and the candidate who is elected from the internal process. The head of government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, the chancellor, Marcelo Ebrard, and the coordinator of senators from Morena, Ricardo Monreal, head all the forecasts for the moment. And whoever he is, despite having the explicit support of López Obrador, will not have his profile. Monreal himself raised that debate at a public event last week. Morena, in his opinion, “hangs on the president’s trouser loop so as not to fall, he lacks a life of his own, he lacks autonomy, he lacks that his leaderships walk along with the progressive stage that we live in.”

López Obrador has now called an event with supporters – to be held while concern about the omicron variant of covid-19 grows – resorting precisely to the symbolism of his career, starting with that of a social leader rather than that of a ruler. The second part of the six-year term, between the doubts generated by its possibility of promoting more structural reforms and the fact that it does not have numbers to undertake changes to the Constitution, is the stage to lay the foundations of its legacy. And this is a moment for your project.

“I invite you to participate next Wednesday, we are going to congregate in the Zócalo of Mexico City at five in the afternoon, for the report on what has been done in these three years,” he said in a video broadcast by social networks that begins with a “friends, friends, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is speaking to you”. “Thus”, the president recalled, “we convened before, by phone, when we were in the opposition and I wanted to remember it, because it fills me with feelings.” “Now we have the possibility to invite, to communicate by this means and with all my affection I invite you to join us,” he added to announce “a civic party, and also combative.” “We have completed three years of fighting, facing adversities, of achieving the purpose of transforming the country, ending corruption and that we live in a fairer, freer, more sovereign, more democratic, more egalitarian country.” A path before which millions of Mexicans express many doubts, according to the polls, and that nevertheless has not diminished the popularity of the president.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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