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MEXICO’S NEW NAVIGATOR

MEXICO’S NEW NAVIGATOR

A fight over a $13 billion project to expand Mexico City’s airport offers an early test for President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known as “AMLO”), who has pledged to totally upend his country’s politics.


Although he won’t take office until December, AMLO has already waded into national politics in a controversial way—organizing a nationwide referendum on a controversial project to transform the airport into the largest in the world.

The vote, which begins tomorrow and continues through Sunday, isn’t legally binding, but Lopez Obrador has pledged to honor the result when he becomes president. Taking policy directly to the streets is part of Lopez Obrador’s style – he got his start as a community organizer, and as mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, he often went to the streets to consult ordinary citizens directly on policy issues. This common touch enabled him to put millions on the streets when he claimed he was cheated out of the presidency in 2006. This legacy, and his commitment to pare back the excesses and luxuries of Mexico’s political class, is part of what got him elected president.

Politically he has little to lose here. Many Mexicans view the airport project as a boondoggle for an out-of-touch elite. (Two-thirds of Mexicans have never been on an airplane.) And if the results do favor construction of the airport, ascurrent polls suggest is the case, he can claim popular legitimacy and support the project without being politically tainted by the project’s costs and complications.

Opponents of the vote see a more sinister power play that skirts usual checks and balances. This non-binding referendum will be overseen by an NGO rather than the government. Ballots will be set up in just 500 of the country’s 2,448 municipalities, and fewer than 2 percent of citizens will likely cast ballots. Members of AMLO’s Morena party will be tasked with monitoring voting sites.

The bottom line: In calling this unprecedented referendum, AMLO hopes to bolster his populist credentials. The results, and how the president-elect responds if voters opt to keep the project, will say a lot about Mexico’s political future and whether its next president is more pragmatist or revolutionary.

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Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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