Veteran Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been elected president of Mexico, winning the largest landslide in his country’s recent history in a remarkable routing of what he terms “the mafia of power”.
Promising to combat corruption and drive down record crime rates, Mr Lopez Obrador captured 53 per cent of the vote, according to preliminary results – a historic victory for the party he created.
Voters decided in their millions to turn their backs on the two parties which have ruled Mexico for almost 100 years, and finally give him a chance – sending his supporters into a frenzy.
Donald Trump, the US president, was quick to congratulate the 64-year-old, who has charted a careful course of not antagonising his northern neighbour, but vowing to put Mexico first.
“I look very much forward to working with him,” said Mr Trump. “There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”
Less welcome to Mr Lopez Obrador’s team, perhaps, was the swift congratulations send by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro – leader of a country which Mr Lopez Obrador’s critics said would be his model.
“May the wide avenues of sovereignty and friendship between our people be opened,” he said. “With him, truth triumphs over lies, and hope in the great motherland is restored.”
The result is, for Mr Lopez Obrador, the stunning culmination of a decades-long dream. Indeed, Mexicans joke that “AMLO”, as he’s known, mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005 and a household name, has been campaigning for the presidency for 18 years.
“It’s a triumph for all the world, all the people,” he told his fans, gathered outside his home in the early hours of Monday.
“It’s of millions and millions who are fed up with this regime of corruption and privilege, and who decided today to vote for a real change.
“I’m going to do it. I won’t fail you.”
Jose Antonio Meade, 49, candidate for the ruling PRI, conceded defeat with lightning speed, announcing shortly after the first exit polls were given, at 8pm in Mexico City, that he had lost.
An experienced and well-respected politician, he was severely handicapped by representing the party of despised President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Ricardo Anaya, from the conservative PAN, conceded 45 minutes later, saying he had already phoned the winner to wish him well.
“I recognised his triumph, I congratulated him, and I wished him success,” the 39-year-old said.
Once his victory became clear supporters streamed towards the Zocalo plaza at the heart of Mexico City, cheering and chanting: “It is an honour, to be with Obrador.”
The plaza was completely full by the time he arrived to give a victory speech in which he underlined his long-time claim that he would head the biggest transformation of Mexico since the 1910 revolution – though he also stressed three times that the transition would be both peaceful and ordered.
“Nothing to create an economic crisis,” he pledged, vowing to respect the independence of the central bank, keep taxation at its current level, and promote business.
“I will not let you down,” he said, to wild cheers from the crowd. “We are going to be ruled by three basic principals. No lying, no stealing, and no betrayal of the people.”
A thousand miles to the north, in the border city of Ciudad Juarez – from where he launched his campaign in April – cars were honking their horns as they passed his party’s headquarters, and drivers sped by waving flags, leaning out of their cars and cheering.
The long-time friend of Jeremy Corbyn has been the front runner from the start, but has made an extra effort to win over the sceptical northern states.
Making his third attempt at taking the presidency, he promised to defeat “the mafia of power” and usher in a new era of corruption-free rule, in which the most marginalised come first.
His platform includes promises to sell the presidential jet, slash his presidential salary in two, and turn the presidential palace into a cultural centre. He has campaigned with the pledge of doubling pensions for retirees, increasing scholarships for students, and boosting production and employment in the impoverished south.
How he will pay for this remains unclear – his team speak vaguely of corruption reductions freeing up millions of dollars.
And he has been remarkably unspecific in his plan for dealing with Mr Trump, Nafta and the surging violence – only talking about rooting out the causes of organised crime, such as poverty and a lack of opportunities among the young, and floating a plan for an amnesty for cartel members.
Nevertheless, his message has resonated in a country exhausted by endless corruption scandals and a failure to reduce the incessant violence.
As the results were announced in Ciudad Juarez two policemen were shot and injured not far from the headquarters, in another grim sign of the deteriorating security situation which both the PAN and the PRI have failed to calm, and which has driven the city to support Mr Lopez Obrador for the first time.
May has been the worst month for murders in the city in seven years, and, dependent on trade with the US, the election has set residents on edge.
Mr Lopez Obrador’s candidate for mayor of the city, Javier Gonzalez Mocken, who by midnight on Sunday had a narrow edge over his opponent, told The Telegraph his party was going to work on reducing the causes of cartel violence.
“Lopez Obrador is looking at the reasons – the poverty and lack of hope,” he said, inside the chaotic party headquarters as the votes came in.
He admitted he did not agree the suggested amnesty for cartel members.
“In the strict sense of the word, no, I’d not be in favour of that,” he said. “Not if they have killed people. But he’s talking about how lots of people are driving into working for the gangs through lack of opportunity. He talks about scholarships, and universities. That is good for the city.”
And he said he was confident Mr Lopez Obrador would establish a working relationship with Mr Trump.
“He’s a very serious man,” he said. “Both sides want a deal on Nafta, as businessmen in the US and Mexico are concerned by this uncertainty.
“We’ve definitely been taken aback by the treatment from Mr Trump – it’s been worse than any other president. We’re concerned by him. So we have elected Mr Lopez Obrador to improve our relations with the US.”
Mr Pena Nieto addressed the nation on state television, promising to work with Mr Lopez Obrador for a smooth transition.
Mr Lopez Obrador will take over on December 1.
Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/02/mexicos-leftistlopez-obrador-course-election-victory-ruling/