Manuel Cortes reports on an historic landslide win for the left in Mexico
A new dawn broke in Mexican politics following the biggest elections in the country’s history in July. Everything, from local council seats to the post of President of the Republic itself was up for grabs. There was only one clear winner though, the candidates of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) led by their leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Called AMLO in Mexico, and described by our media as their Jeremy Corbyn, this hardline anti-austerity candidate smashed the presidential contest leaving his main rival trailing by over 20 points. The impact of his victory is just beginning to be felt. He will assume office for a six-year term in December by which time MORENA will be ruling most local councils, hold most state governorships and command a majority in both houses of parliament. And because the people of Mexico went to the polls in record numbers and delivered a decisive victory for the Left, his mandate for redistributive change is huge. Not since the Mexican revolution has such a powerful and decisive shift occurred to Mexican body politics.
Sadly, the background to these elections was particularly bloody with almost 150 candidates murdered during the campaign. This meant that there were very well-founded fears that there may be significant attempts to cheat and also to deter voters from going to polling stations. Unfortunately, this is what Mexicans have come to expect at election time. Yet this year that tradition was extinguished. I was privileged to represent TSSA as an International Election Observer and can report that on July 1 the genuine fear of electoral fraud turned out to be a worry rather than a reality.
Out of over 156,00 polling stations only 10 did not open because of violence – a massive reduction from the over 1500 forced to stay shut because of it last time round. Our monitoring team’s biggest concern was the failure of many polling stations to be ready to allow voters access at the 8am poll opening time. However, people everywhere were out early to cast their ballots and they queued patiently. We witnessed an early turn out of orderly voters purposefully waiting to take their own moment in making collective history. Hand on heart, I can testify to seeing nothing to cause me any concern about the fairness of these contests. AMLO and MORENA share a seismic victory which is well beyond reproach.
It took just 40 short minutes after polls closed for both AMLO’s major rivals for the presidency to concede defeat. It was game, set and match for the Left. As news of this historic victory spread, thousands upon thousands upon thousands spontaneously poured onto the streets of Mexico City to celebrate and 200,000 plus crowded into the City’s huge Zocalo Square to party through the night. The jubilant crowd danced, cried, sang as they waited for AMLO to address them. His delivery was interrupted constantly by collective chants of “El Presidente”. The explosion of a people’s political ecstasy was palpable on the dawn of July 2 as the multitude grasped their hope that change is surely on its way.
Decades of despair evaporated and expectations are now are sky high. AMLO has promised to end endemic corruption and obscene levels of poverty. Mexico is the 15th largest economy in the world. It’s why AMLO’s message that it doesn’t need to be this way so resonated. But he has his work cut out. Atrocious violence and the drug cartels will not go away overnight. Last year Mexico saw almost 30,000 murders. And of course, there is also the not so small matter of dealing with the erratic president of Mexico’s northern neighbour, Trump.
AMLO’s in-tray is already full with extremely difficult challenges but the Mexican people’s appetite for change has never been greater. As I just noted, Mexico is not a poor country – its economy is second only to Brazil in Latin America and it has a well-developed industrial base serving markets which include the most powerful economy in our globe, the US. Yet, like in far too many countries, the ill-distribution of its wealth scars its future. In Mexico City, Carlos Slim, one of the planet’s richest men, lives side-by-side with millions trying to make ends meet with literally next to nothing. Since his election ALMO has been developing his message of building an economy for the many. He has announced he will nationalise electricity and wipe off the debt of two million people. He is no longer just stoking, he is realising his supporters’ dream of building a fairer country.
The repercussions of this victory are immense and its ripples will spread. If you can have a left-wing government in a country which borders the US, then socialism is possible anywhere. This Autumn, the Brazilian Presidential election stands a chance of returning a candidate who will be an ally of wealth redistribution in Latin America. AMLO’s landslide victory is making a profound change to the politics of the region as the Left rediscovers its confidence and people rise. MORENA is a movement of hope and desire for a new politics in which social wealth is shared more fairly amongst people. AMLO is both the conduit and now the driver of change. MORENA’s collective sense of purpose and the people’s desire for an economy for the many are an inspiration to those of us building a movement for national regeneration here in Britain. Listen not to the nay sayers. Mexico is the lesson that a Corbyn-led government is possible here. Viva Mexico! Viva Britain! Viva Socialism!