Political Thermometer

December 19, 2019
Political Thermometer

The approaching year-end marks the first anniversary of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) administration. What stands out most about his tenure so far is the decided shift in policy direction away from that positions to which Mexican society had become accustomed. From the beginning of his administration, AMLO stated that he would bring change to Mexican politics. This change affected all areas of Mexican society, from social and economic to cultural matters.2019 will be known for the stark polarization between defenders and detractors of the new policies. Such polarization indicates a climate of growing social tension among Mexicans. Fortunately, Mexico’s government and institutions are mature enough to maintain civility and the freedoms that guarantee democratic debate and participation, which can be seen in the absolute freedom enjoyed by the Mexican press and media. The opposition has been able to express themselves without reprisals, and it appears not a single act of repression has occurred against those who oppose the administration’s views.2019 has seen large contrasts, although it is not yet time to make definitive evaluations of the administration’s first full year. On one hand, several of the president’s decisions were badly received by society and have been harshly criticized. Notable examples include cancellation of the construction of Mexico City’s new airport planned to be built on Lake Texcoco, which will now be replaced by another airport (Santa Lucia), on which construction recently started. Another example is the difficulty many companies have had in navigating transactions with the federal government or the obstacles presented by various investment projects, including those in the energy sector. While criticisms of AMLO may be common , there are also signs that his decisions have received society’s approval. Among the decisions that have been almost unanimously applauded are the fight against corruption, austerity measures in government spending and increased accountability of federal authorities. Another interesting change in political life is the president's decision to hold daily morning press briefings to explain to assembled reporters and the general public the rationale for certain decisions or to clarify doubts that can arise on a daily basis.While there is concern about the slowdown of the country's economic growth, Mexican economic indicators have remained reasonably stable. Final approval of the USMCA is expected to boost direct foreign investment in Mexico, which is necessary for technological innovation and the creation of jobs and wealth. Similarly, the government’s decision to pursue equality among all societal groups is also positive, promoting greater economic participation by women and youth, and supportive of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, indigenous peoples and people in extreme poverty. However, widespread concern remains about violence in several regions of the country, and there has been little substantive progress in strengthening the rule of law. Without doubt, these factors, both good and bad, affect Mexico´s political life. This year was marked by the constant presence of the president and an unfortunate paralysis of political parties, which continue to remain at odds on minor disputes and be tied up in internal conflicts. In 2020, important new administration proposals will be further clarified and all of Mexico hopes they will result in a vigorous and thriving benefit for the country.

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