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Feature 070918 Pazos

Monday, July 9, 2018

Why the Clean Sweep by AMLO in Mexico's Presidential Election?

By Luis Pazos

The win by [Andres Manuel] Lopez Obrador [AMLO] was due to a change in personal strategy so that voters would perceive a distinct image to that projected in his two previous campaigns [2006 and 2012]. As well, the other parties competed with new positions, that resulted in a different view by electors of the PRI and the PAN, his two main rivals.

This time AMLO's discourse was not visceral, as on previous occasions.  This time he did not bedevil the institutions, rather he pledged to govern with them. Nor did he directly castigate the PRI, instead he used it to blatantly represent corruption and that party's guarantees of impunity to various PRI governors and senior officials.

The perception of the PRI as a party of the corrupt and the irresponsible in the handling of public finances caused them to lose 11.5 million voters, compared to 2012; more than 19 million compared to 7.5 million in 2018. That loss, 60% of their votes, could have been more votes for the PAN, but MORENA pulled them in better, not only by promising to do away with past corruption of the PRI, but too due to the internal schism in PAN.

Many PAN supporters were disillusioned by the struggle between Margarita and Anaya. That fight, without going into who to blame, weakened the PAN and took away votes. Probably more votes than those won through the alliance with the PRD, which also disillusioned many PAN members.

MORENA voters, made up of a minority of leftists and a majority of middle-class and humble citizens, angry with the rampant looting by the PRI and the split in PAN, saw a different alternative in Lopez Obrador and decided to vote for him.

"The stars were aligned" in favor of Lopez Obrador, who did not just win but swept the election, with the new discourse of reconciliation, a bellyful of PRI corruption, and disillusion among PAN members due to the split in the party.

Although I did not vote for AMLO, I wish him well so that we all will do well, with AMLO keeping his promise to respect the institutions and not falling into authoritarian temptations – since there is a cost for mistakes, like what happened to the PRI and the PAN.


Edited translation by


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, many available from online booksellers.

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