Surprise victory in Mexican elections marks shift in politics

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Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto meets with President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the presidential palace in Mexico City, Mexico, July 3, 2018. (Photo Presidencia de la República Mexicana)

In one of the largest elections in Mexico’s history, Andres Lopez Obrador was elected president on Sunday, July 1. According to Vox, 3,400 seats were open at the local, state and federal levels. This is the first time a left-leaning candidate has won the presidential election.

Four candidates ran in the presidential election: Ricardo Anaya ran with the National Action Party (PAN) while Jaime Rodríguez Calderón ran as an Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate. José Antonio Meade ran as an independent candidate, and Obrador ran under a new political party called the National Regeneration Movement.

PAN and PRI, along with the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), dominate Mexican politics. According to the BBC, presidents of the PRI remained in power from 1929 to 2000, after which PAN came into power until 2012. PAN tends to be known as a conservative political party.

According to The New York Times, Obrador campaigned on a “narrative of social change, including increased pensions for the elderly, educational grants for Mexico’s youth and additional support for farmers.” Specific campaign promises included an end to corruption and reduction of violence and endemic poverty. Obrador protested against what he called the mafia of power, referring to those who use the government to enrich themselves. The Washington Post stated in addition to cutting his salary by half, Obrador plans to turn the Los Pinos grounds into a public park; however, some opponents have expressed fear of Mexico heading in the same direction as Venezuela with Obrador’s left-leaning policies.

Obrador was the mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, running for president in 2006 and 2012, making the 2018 election his third attempt. Obrador is scheduled to assume office December 1, 2018, and will serve a term of five years and 10 months.

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