Left populist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the Mexican presidential election on 1 July, but his victory offers little for the beleaguered Mexican working class.
López Obrador, often known after his initials as AMLO, won over half (53%) of the vote, defeating Ricardo Anaya of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and Jose Antonio Meade of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Although López Obrador led in the polls for months, his victory was surprisingly comfortable considering the history of fraudulent elections in Mexico.
López Obrador belonged to the ruling PRI for the first decade and a half of his political life. In 1989 he joined the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and ran unsuccessfully for state governor in Tabasco in 1994. There he organised a campaign of civil resistance against rising electricity bills. López Obrador was governor of Mexico City between 2000 and 2005, before unsuccessfully running for president in a PRD-led coalition in 2006 and 2012.
In 2014 López Obrador founded the Movement for National Regeneration (Morena). The acronym alludes to La Virgen Morena of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint. It is also a term for dark-skinned, indigenous Mexicans. But López Obrador is socially conservative, opposing both legal abortion and gay rights. The party has more than 300,000 members.
He is very much within the tradition of the old ruling PRI, especially before its neoliberal turn in the 1980s.
As Mexico City mayor he backed private construction interests to gentrify the historic city and rich neighbourhoods.
Like the old PRI, López Obrador brings together elements of the capitalist class with organised labour.
He apparently intends to include Guillermo Ortiz, a former central bank chief and Santiago Levy of the Inter-American Development Bank in his government to reassure the markets. But he has also courted Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the miners’ union leader accused of embezzling millions of pesos.
The Partido Revolucionario de las Trabajadores (PRT, Revolutionary Workers’ Party), the main Mexican “Fourth International” group, originally backed the campaign of María de Jesús Patricio Martínez (known as Marichuy), leader of the Indigenous Council of Government. However Mexican electoral law makes it extremely difficult to gain the required signatures needed to get on the ballot paper.
The PRT argued that the question of whether or not to vote was secondary to the need to organise the anti-capitalist left. This is evasive.
The PRT was a mass party during the 1980s, winning a handful of MPs and leading social struggles. It neutered itself by supporting the PRD in successive elections instead of fielding its own candidates.
The Mexican left will have to organise itself independently and militantly against López Obrador and the rest of the bourgeois politicians that run the Mexican state.