Mexicans elect a new president every six years. So it occasionally happens that the U.S. and Mexico have elections on the same year. Such is 2024, when voters in both countries will get to choose a new president and Congress.
Former U.S. ambassador to Mexico Earl Anthony Wayne has expressed some concerns about democracy south of the border. This is what he wrote:
AMLO has been very critical of the Supreme Court and other autonomous institutions that were created over the years as Mexico was building its democracy. However, AMLO has not had the two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress needed to approve the constitutional reforms he would like to see. His attempted reforms have sparked very large counter demonstrations and been rebuffed by Mexico’s courts, but he has persisted in his calls for constitutional change.
During AMLO’s six-year tenure, the independent global indexes on democracy and related issues, including corruption and rule of law, have reported deterioration and backsliding in the quality of Mexico’s democracy. The 2023 World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, for example, tracks a decline in Mexico’s rule of law score during AMLO’s term and currently ranks Mexico at 116 out of the 142 countries measured. Thus, the outcome of the Mexico’s elections could be very important for the strength of Mexico’s democratic institutions.
Not surprisingly, many in Mexico see the 2024 elections as a test for maintaining the strength of its democracy – echoing themes being heard in the U.S. election campaign.
Interesting. I learned this week that Mexicans are planning a huge march nationwide to protect their democracy from what they see as AMLO’s overreach.
At the moment, AMLO’s candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, looks like an easy winner in the upcoming election. She is leading against opposition candidate, Senator Xóchitl Gálvez, by a strong margin. One of these two ladies will be the next president of Mexico and it looks like it will be Claudia.
The real threat to democracy is that AMLO doesn’t go away. I am not saying that he stays as president but rather does not leave the stage. His candidate Sheinbaum looks more and more like a puppet of AMLO. She is a well-educated woman but does not have the personality to match AMLO’s political skills.
At some point, likely President Sheinbaum may have to lock AMLO in the closet and prove to Mexicans that she is in charge. It will be tough.