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Analysis: Mexico goes to the polls in elections marred by violence towards candidates

And then there’s the social media influencer who seeks to change into a member of Congress by promising, amongst different issues, “boobs for every woman.” In her platform, she proposes breast implants lined by the general public well being system.

That’s solely a small a part of the stage as Mexico will get prepared to carry midterm elections Sunday, the most important within the nation’s historical past. More than 93 million registered voters will select candidates for greater than 21,000 elected posts in all three ranges of presidency.

But regardless of its dimension, this elections is, in lots of respects, a few single man: present President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
President López Obrador attends the daily briefing at Palacio Nacional on May 28, 2021 in Mexico City, Mexico.

López Obrador isn’t on the poll, however Mexican analysts, consultants, a former President and a former presidential candidate consulted by CNN say the elections quantity to a referendum on the 67-year-old President, a populist, leftist political veteran and former Mexico City mayor who received the presidency in 2018 on his third try.

Luis Carlos Ugalde, former president of the Federal Electoral Institute, says that this election is about one factor: “Voters are basically split between those who love [President] López Obrador and those who don’t trust him.”

Uncontrolled violence forward of the vote

Lopez Obrador got here to energy promising “hugs, not gunshots,” however has to date did not curb gun violence in Mexico. A wave of political assassinations has shaken the present marketing campaign season main as much as the June 6 election in a rustic already devastated by organized crime turf wars for a lot of the final 20 years.

“The country is at peace. It’s being governed. There are no risks of instability,” López Obrador mentioned Tuesday. But he additionally acknowledged what has change into painfully apparent to thousands and thousands of Mexicans. “We are facing the scourge of violence every day,” López Obrador mentioned.

Between September of final 12 months (when the electoral course of started) and the tip of May, there have been 89 assassinations of politicians in Mexico and 782 crimes dedicated towards them, in response to Etellekt, a danger administration agency. Thirty-five of these murdered had been candidates working for workplace within the upcoming election.
Why Mexico's election is all about the man who is not running
Victims embrace Alma Rosa Barragán, a mayoral candidate within the state of Guanajuato, who was gunned down in the midst of a rally 12 days earlier than the election.
The following day, José Alberto Alonso Gutiérrez, who’s working for mayor of the seaside resort metropolis of Acapulco, barely survived an armed assault.
Abel Murrieta, a mayoral candidate within the city of Cajeme (Sonora state) and former state’s legal professional, was shot and killed in broad daylight on May 13 as he handed out marketing campaign flyers. Murrieta was additionally an legal professional for the LeBaron household who misplaced 9 of its members with twin Mexican and American nationality in late 2019 in a area of northern Mexico recognized for widespread organized crime presence.
The following day, President López Obrador acknowledged that “this is indeed a difficult time because of the campaign, the competing interests being generated across different regions and we have to protect the candidates.”

Fears of a too-powerful President

Voters mustn’t enable the acute political violence to obscure a number of different main points, says Luis Rubio, president of México Evalúa, a Mexico City think-thank. The vote comes because the nation continues to be reeling from the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic that not solely put its well being system to the take a look at, but additionally shrank its financial system 8.5 % in 2020, in response to authorities figures.
The vote comes as the country reels from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even earlier than López Obrador took workplace, Mexico was already affected by one other “pandemic,” as described by the nation’s former well being secretary Juan Ramón de la Fuente. He referred to gun violence, a problem that has solely gotten worse throughout the present administration. To put this in perspective, there have been 10,579 homicides within the first 4 months of 2018 (earlier than López Obrador took workplace). The determine rose to 11,307 in the identical 2019 interval and elevated to 11,736 between January and April 2020, in response to authorities knowledge.

Rubio, additionally a former adviser to Mexico’s Secretary of the Treasury, says this election is about nothing lower than the survival of Mexico’s democracy. He and different analysts criticize what they understand to be an authoritarian bent that López Obrador has proven.

At totally different instances, the President has railed towards the judiciary, unbiased election officers, the central financial institution and the free press, to not point out opposition events which have fashioned an alliance, despite large variations, in a determined effort to forestall the President from growing his energy within the legislative department.

López Obrador has lengthy dismissed criticisms of his perspective towards governmental checks and balances. “We said before taking office that a transformation was necessary to reverse Mexico’s breakdown,” he mentioned throughout one in every of his day by day morning press conferences, the place he continuously mocks political rivals.

Rubio warns that if López Obrador’s occasion, Morena, positive aspects an absolute majority within the decrease home this Sunday, the President “will have a clear path towards strengthening his [political] project, meaning recreating the 70s, which is a way of governing that he’s very comfortable with.” From the late 1930s and particularly throughout the 1970s, Mexican Presidents who rose to energy beneath the wing of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) managed every part within the nation via an almighty occasion, whereas maintaining the exterior look of a democracy.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a conservative who in 2000 grew to become the primary President in additional than 70 years who did not belong to the PRI, says he is inspired {that a} coalition together with the PRI, his personal Party of National Action (PAN) and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) can cease López Obrador from consolidating energy.

“The goal is to make Mr. López Obrador think before making proposals like the daily wisecracks he comes up with,” Fox mentioned.

A former first girl of Mexico goes even additional. Margarita Zavala, spouse of former Mexican President Felipe Calderón (2006-12), and who ran an unsuccessful presidential marketing campaign as an unbiased candidate in 2017, harshly criticizes López Obrador, who, in her opinion, has a dictatorial bent.

The vehicle which political candidate José Alberto Alonso Gutiérrez was traveling in during an armed attack.

“I’m not exaggerating when I say that we’re at the crossroads between democracy and dictatorship. We have been talking for the last two years about bad decisions, deaths, [Covid-19] infections, appalling budgets, additional millions of people who have become poor, an economic downturn, lack of infrastructure progress and two years of lies,” Zavala mentioned in an interview with CNN.

Yet the President and his occasion stay enormously widespread. López Obrador’s approval fee stays as excessive as 61 %, in response to one ballot.

Part of his attraction has to do with the truth that many center and decrease class Mexicans (particularly his base and those that voted for him) really feel that, for the primary time in a long time, they’ve a President from the folks and for the individuals who really listens to them and understands them. His day by day press conferences typically function a conduit to bolster his views and political platform, as an alternative of answering coverage questions from the press.

Luis Antonio Espino, a Mexican communications marketing consultant and writer of a e book concerning the President, says that López Obrador’s communication technique has successfully labored to alter the notion of actuality to his favor so that individuals consider his efficiency based mostly on his intentions and never outcomes.

“The complexity of our country and of Mexican society gets reduced to the same narrative that he uses on a daily basis […]. He substitutes communication with propaganda with the purpose of manipulating the perception people, creating a parallel reality that it’s always favorable to him,” Espino advised Mexican information web site MVS Noticias.

During a latest video the President revealed on YouTube, the place he seems eating on fish with a view of a dam in Chiapas state, he guarantees folks that “power rates are not going to increase.”

After he tells them what they wish to hear, he provides, “beyond inflation.”

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