AMLO Tests the Bounds of His Popularity with Push to Transform Mexican Democracy

By Matthew Kendrick

"What happens after 2024 when [AMLO] is no longer in a seat of power? How visible is he going to be?" said AS/COA's Carin Zissis to Morning Consult.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador saw among the largest protests of his term after seeking major changes to Mexico’s election system, but polls show he is no weaker for having gone up against the well-liked National Electoral Institute–even if he and his party may have to back off some of his most ambitious proposals after a vote to change the constitution failed.

López Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, will be constitutionally barred from holding office after his term expires in 2024. But his Morena party could be put in a commanding position for the 2024 elections if it prevails in pushing through legislation overhauling the electoral process. Winning two-thirds of the federal Congress and simple majorities in state legislatures would give Morena the power to change the Constitution at will, and López Obrador immense behind-the-scenes power. But in attacking the INE, López Obrador may have provided a rallying point for the schismatic opposition. […]

The constitutional changes were seen as sufficiently threatening to Mexican democracy to draw a rare, if mild, rebuke from the U.S. State Department. Just don’t expect it to go any further than that, as Washington has little to gain from antagonizing its second largest trade partner and few tools at its disposal, said Carin Zissis, editor-in-chief of Americas Society/Council of the Americas Online.

“The United States is not going to sanction Mexico; the Mexico relationship is the most important relationship that the United States has,” she said. “The intertwined history of the two countries is so complex and important culturally, diplomatically and economically, and there has to be a give and take. It’s difficult to imagine the changes going so far that the United States would take action.”…

“Morena is less than a decade old and it is tied up very much in López Obrador’s personality. So what happens after 2024 when he’s no longer in a seat of power? How visible is he going to be?” asked Zissis. “He may not be in office, but he’s not looking to disappear.”

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