Mexico: President-Elect Lopez Obrador and His Morena Party Secure Congressional Control

2 MINS READJul 3, 2018 | 14:38 GMT
The Big Picture

With Mexico's federal elections complete, populist president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wields significant political power. Lopez Obrador rode a wave of voter discontentment with Mexico's political parties to the presidency. After the July 1 vote, he has no congressional constraints on his legislative power. Domestic business leaders, politicians and foreign investors will try to determine in the coming months exactly what his legislative priorities are and whether any of these threaten their interests.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been declared the winner of Mexico's July 1 presidential election, and now that nearly all the votes from the federal elections of the same day have been counted, the country's populist president-elect and his National Regeneration Movement (Morena) have emerged as big winners in Congress as well. Preliminary information from the National Electoral Council, reported July 3, indicate that Lopez Obrador's National Regeneration coalition will pick up about 69 seats in the Senate and about 309 in the lower house. These figures will give Morena uncontested majorities in both houses of Congress.

These majorities are crucial because they will allow Lopez Obrador's party to legislate without the input of political opponents such as the center-right National Action Party (PAN) or the centrist Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), which has been Mexico's ruling party for several years — until these most recent elections.

Morena's control of the legislature means the PRI and PAN will have to resort to Mexico's federal court system to slow any legislative changes they deem controversial. These issues may include attempts by Morena to amend parts of the previous administration's showcase energy and education reforms.

Indeed, having won the majority in Congress, Lopez Obrador's coalition can now begin seriously considering a far more ambitious legislative agenda than that of his predecessors in the PRI. Initiatives such as significantly increasing social spending are well within his political faction's grasp, and so are changes to secondary legislation underpinning energy reform.

Though the extent of his political power is now fully visible, Lopez Obrador's complete political agenda is not. Now that the July 1 elections have limited the power of Mexico's political minorities and private sector, they will likely begin building connections to Lopez Obrador's coalition in the hopes of shaping the president-elect's agenda. However, without significant congressional leverage to engage in political bartering, PRI and PAN will find themselves increasingly at the mercy of Morena and its allies.

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