Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Economic Decline Lifts the Prospects of a Vocal Populist

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a former presidential candidate, attracted thousands of supporters to a Mexico City rally Jan. 25
AMLO is still about.

Only two years ago, Amlo, as he is known, was the driving force in Mexico’s polarized politics. After he narrowly lost the presidency and led months of street protests charging that it had been stolen from him, politics boiled down to one issue: who was for him and who was against.

Last year, his hold on public attention began to falter. The public, the news media and many of his supporters had simply moved on, letting the turmoil of the 2006 election fade into history.

Saying that the economy will only get worse, Mr. López Obrador announced a campaign to press the government to cut wasteful spending, lower consumer prices and taxes, and do more for the poor.

Price controls sound good.

“Our movement must continue demanding a change in economic policy, which has demonstrated its failure,” he said. “The model must be changed. You cannot put new wine in old bottles.”

With the next presidential election three years off, Mr. López Obrador’s precise ambitions are unclear. He calls his new campaign a social movement and clearly aims to be a force to be reckoned with.

Not tipping his hand gives him an unknown element.

But his relationship with his own party remains fraught. Last year he lost a battle with a rival faction over the presidency of the party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or P.R.D., and he no longer holds any official position in the party or in government.

He doesn't need no stinkin' adges.

The low point came last fall, when most of the senators from his party broke with him to approve an important energy bill, as his supporters scuffled with police officers in an attempt to block the vote.

To many who had backed his presidential bid, Mr. López Obrador’s street-brawling political style had become a liability.

What is evident is that while talk of a comeback may be premature, so was writing him off.

“He’s a charismatic, intuitive politician,” said Joy Langston, an analyst with the CIDE, a Mexico City research institution. “He not only knows how to win over the masses but also to govern in a way that continues his popularity. Amlo will never be completely finished.”

No comments:

Post a Comment