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Monday, December 14, 2015

How Andrés Manuel López Obrador could win the Mexican Presidency

By Luis Pazos

The populist promises the poor – free or subsidized – housing, land, food, clothing, electricity, transportation, gasoline and everything else that comes to mind, in order to win votes. He also tells them that he will seek equality, taking from the rich to give to them. Those promises, converted into laws and economic policies, plunged Venezuela into the worst crisis of its history. For 2015, they will reach record levels of inflation, devaluation, shortages, corruption and violence.

The chaos caused by the populist measures of the governments of Chavez and Maduro, in the name of the Bolivarian Revolution and 21st century socialism, resulted in the impoverishment of the middle class and an increase of the poor.

In the early 1970's, after being defeated twice in presidential elections, Salvador Allende, the standard-bearer for a coalition of parties of the left (Unidad Popular), reached the presidency of Chile with only 36% of the vote. It took that populist president just three years to create nationalizations, a budget deficit, monetary emissions and public debt that plunged Chile into the greatest shortages, hyperinflation and devaluations in its history. One of the main reasons for the rise to power of Allende was the deterioration of the political parties that had governed. Many Chileans looked for an alternative in a candidate of the populist left.

In Venezuela this history was repeated, insofar as the mercantilist and regulatory policies of the two traditional parties opened the doors of the presidency to the Hugo Chávez coup. The populist policies of Chavez and his heir Maduro, their 21st century socialism, just like in Chile in the 1970s, led Venezuela to shortages, inflations and the highest devaluations in its history.

In Mexico, many do not want more of the PRI insofar as three years of its return show that it has not overcome its old vices. The PAN maintained economic stability during its 12 years in the presidency, and it advanced in transparency, but the lack of a majority in Congress prevented it from carrying out the structural reforms needed to overcome underdevelopment.

Internal struggles for control of PAN have since brought about a waste of the political capital gained from its two presidents [Vicente Fox, 2000-2006; and Felipe Calderón, 2006-2012]. In the next elections, if the divisiveness continues, the PAN could ignore the man or woman candidate with the greatest possibilities of winning.

Considering this scenario in the main opposition party, the possibility arises that with a panorama of multiple candidates without charisma Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) could reach the Presidency, although a majority of Mexicans would not vote for him. The causes will be the absence of PAN unity around a candidate with the greatest potential to win, and a weakened PRI perceived by most Mexicans as corrupt and inefficient.


Luis Pazos (e-mail:, who heads the Free Enterprise Research Center (CISLE) in Mexico City, holds a master's degree in Public Finance and a doctorate in Law from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).  A prolific writer and forethoughtful analyst, Dr. Pazos' commentaries on Mexican economics, finance and politics have appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the Americas.  As well, he is the author of numerous books.  Edited translation by

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