In a historic victory, leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, was elected the President of Mexico on Sunday, breaking the decades-long stranglehold of two establishment parties on the country. The three other candidates, Ricardo Anaya, Jose Antonio Meade and the independent, Jaime Rodriguez, conceded defeat shortly after the close of polling.
AMLO, who is reported to have won 53% of the vote, addressed his supporters, saying, “ We will respect everyone but we will give preference to the humble and the forgotten, especially the indigenous communities of Mexico.” He also indicated he would meet representatives of human rights groups, the UN and other organizations for a reconciliation plan to bring peace to Mexico.
AMLO, a former Mayor of Mexico City, ran on a platform of putting an end to corruption and reversing many of the neoliberal reforms of the current President Enrique Pena Nieto. The latter had initiated large-scale privatization of the energy sector, continuing decades of reforms which have seen inequality rise in Mexico. According to Oxfam, 1% of the country’s population owns 43% of its wealth. Nieto’s term also saw a massive wave of political killings, including during the election campaign, when nearly 130 politicians were murdered in 8 months.
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AMLO made a series of promises, including raising the minimum wage, establishing a universal health and public education system, and cracking down hard on corruption that captured the imagination of voters, especially a large section of the youth
Leaders from Latin America congratulated Obrador on his victory. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro tweeted, congratulating AMLO, “I congratulate the Mexican people and their elected president; may the wide avenues of sovereignty and friendship for our people be opened; with him wins the truth over the lie and renews the hope of the Patria Grande (Great Homeland) [Latin America and the Caribbean].” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel also congratulated him.
Salvador Sánchez Cerén, the President of El Salvador, felicitated him and wrote:
“My sincere congratulations to Andrés Manuel López Obrador for the victory won in the presidential elections of Mexico. With @lopezobrador_ we will continue to strengthen the profound bonds of friendship based on the wellbeing of our people.”
Rafael Correa, the former president of Ecuador, also wished him well, writing “Hard hit to the conservative restoration and the winds of appeasement that lived in the region. “
US President Donald Trump also tweeted his congratulations. In his post-victory speech, Obrador said he was looking for an amicable relationship with the United States, “always built on mutual respect and in defence of our migrated countrymen that live and work honorably in that country.” AMLO has opposed Donald Trump’s plan for a wall along the US-Mexico border in his speeches and a book ‘Oye Trump’ (Listen, Trump).
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Obrador’s Juntos Haremos Historia (Together, We Will Make History) coalition that comprises his party MORENA (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional or National Regeneration Movement), the Labour Party and the Social Encounter Party is also reported to have won nearly 214 of the 300 seats of the Chamber of Deputies that are up for election in the first-past-the-post system. The remaining 200 are allotted as per the proportional representation system.
Obrador formed MORENA in 2014 after leaving the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). His victory brings to an end the dominance of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN), which have ruled the country of much of the last century.