WHO IS AMLO?

On Sunday, Mexican voters will elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, widely known as AMLO, as their next president. Mexico will have a new leader, Latin America will have a new voice, and Donald Trump will have a new foil.


Who is AMLO?

“Friend of the working man”: Mexico’s first “leftist” president since the 1930s, this son of village shopkeepers knows his working-class audience. His support is strongest in the country’s poor rural south, a region he promises to revitalize, and in the progressive-leftist stronghold of Mexico City. Over the years, AMLO, 64, has cultivated an image as a modest, honest, hard-working public servant. That image, more than any policy proposal, defines his appeal.

The Capable Executive: As Mexico City’s mayor (2000–2006), AMLO built a reputation as a leader focused on results. He proved willing to work with political opponents to expand pension protections, build roads to ease traffic, and restore dilapidated downtown infrastructure.

The determined politician: This is AMLO’s third run for president. After losing in 2006 by less than one percent of the vote, he accused his opponent of fraud, and his supporters occupied the center of the capital for several months. In 2012, he lost again. He’s now finally on the verge of victory.

The pragmatist: Though he does want the State to dictate the role of public and private players in the economy, AMLO has worked hard to persuade Mexicans he’s not a Hugo Chavez-style radical ideologue. He rails against a corrupt political elite but says he won’t raise taxes or confiscate land.

Nor is he a Chavez-style firebrand. After Trump’s election, AMLO published a book called “Listen, Trump” which included a passage that compared Trump’s descriptions of Mexicans with Nazi descriptions of Jews. But aware that Mexico needs good relations with the US, he has since taken a more circumspect approach and has reportedly worked behind the scenes to build ties with Trump advisors. AMLO won’t be silent if Trump attacks, but he’s unlikely to fire the first shot.

The president: AMLO’s likely landslide will boost his coalition to a majority in the lower house of Mexico’s congress and sizeable delegation in its Senate. That’s enough to get some things done, but he’s unlikely to realize the highest hopes or deepest fears that his career and campaign have aroused.

In particular:

  • On fighting inequality, he promises free education and guaranteed jobs for the young, more generous pensions for the elderly, and lower taxes for Mexican companies — all paid for, he says, by ending corruption.
  • On NAFTA, he’ll delay progress by appointing a new negotiating team, but economic necessity and political self-interest ensure he’ll want a deal.
  • On corruption, be skeptical that AMLO, or anyone else, can take on the broad cross-section of Mexico’s political and business elite necessary to make a meaningful near-term difference.​
  • On violent crime, AMLO is simply overmatched. During this election campaign, the most violent in Mexico’s history, more than 120 politicians have been murdered, the national homicide rate has hit record levels, and violence has spread to new areas. Drug cartels have coopted local governments and police. In response, AMLO offers vague promises about a renewed Security Ministry, a national advisory council, an amnesty program for small-fry drug dealers, greater investment in education, and opportunities created by a stronger economy.

The bottom-line: A candidate can hope to be all things to enough people. Elected leaders must deliver. AMLO’s honeymoon may prove shorter than he expected.

It was inevitable that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make India's elections a referendum on Narendra Modi, and now that the vast majority of 600 million votes cast have been counted, it's clear he made the right call.

More Show less

Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

More Show less

It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.