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A New Mexican Wave
Amid the surge of demagogues and rabble-rousers of far-right across the globe in the recent past, the coming of Senor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as the newly-elected President of Mexico has broken new ground in the Western hemisphere. Elected as the leader of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), which was founded by Lopez Obrador following two failed attempts in 2006 and 2012 elections as a candidate of broad Left coalitions, he had earlier headed the federal district Government of Mexico City. Like the US presidential election, Mexico, too, elects its President in July every six years and the President-elect assumes office on the first of December. Obrador was sworn in as Mexican President in December 2018.
Having taken charge of the Government and in pursuance of his campaign promises, Obrador has not moved to the presidential palace, has halved his own salary in the proposed Budget and also declared that he won't allow anyone else to get more than him. Change can be brought about during his campaigns, he promised to "combat corruption" and maintain an "austere Government." Other assurances include more students' scholarship and pension to senior citizens, which can be financed by "cutting grafts." He flies in commercial airlines and put the presidential plane on sale. As the district Government head earlier, he had adopted several policies that benefitted vulnerable sections, infirm, poor women and aged population.
Instead of occupying luxurious presidential palace, he has started working from nearly a century-old national palace the official seat of power and has continued living at his private home. He strongly believes that neo-liberal policies have benefitted a "minority of the population" while "impoverishing a great majority." Significantly, a century after the 1910 revolution the first landmark in the political history of Mexico after it gained independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1822 Obrador has become the first one who had begun as a protest leader but within the folds of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Spanish Partido Revolucionario Institucional, which had controlled all levers of power for seven long decades since its formation in 1929.
Paradoxically, the Mexican political system was bizarre as it didn't permit the incumbent to have a second term, but he was empowered to select his successor who would be the ruling party's nominee in the ensuing election. Once in power, the new President would nominate his candidates for the next gubernatorial election and likewise, new Mayors would be hand-picked nominees of incumbent Governors. Everything was fine-tuned with ground support of consensus manufactured through local branches of cross-sectional wings of the ruling PRI.
The first crack in this electoral machine appeared during the 1988 election when Cuauhtemoc Cardenas challenged this nomination process. Echoing the feelings of the growing middle class, Cardenas a former Governor and also the son of a former but revered President who had nationalised petroleum sector way back in 1934 and redistributed land to the poor peasants asserted that the PRI-managed system was no longer in sync with a modern country of urban professionals. Although PRI-sponsored candidates won the election, the then President Carlos Salinas de Gortari read the writing on the wall and initiated measures to cleanse the system, including setting up of an autonomous Election Commission and ensuring proportional representation of parties in Parliament. Measures were also taken to withdraw discretionary powers of bureaucracy, mediated by the party, which resulted in the ruling party's loosening grip over the patronage network.
A new Mexican wave - With the election of Lopez Obrador as the President, a new era of politics has begun. He must remain true to the grandiose promises made during the campaign. For more information visit: https://www.dailypioneer.com/world/page/1
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