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July 02, 2018


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I think you miss the real source of additional congressional votes for the new government: PRI. Admittedly, it will be a much smaller source this time - but it will be more important than PRD or MC. The rump PRD (with well-known exceptions) already largely consists of those who hate him - why else were they not on board already?

On the other hand, big chunks of PRI can be easily accomodated in the AMLO coalition. He is, really, an old priista, and he has long shown to appeal to the PRI traditionalists (let´s call them "Bartletts"). Now that he is in power, he will have no problem attracting many of the rest of them.

One also does not need to look for any idées fixes to see what his primary objectives will be. We are dealing with the classic machine politician, who knows everything there is to know about building up power. His first and foremost task will be to rebuild the PRI machine of the olden days - but under himself. He is in position to rearm the old (and by now quite decayed) clientelistic networks - why else was he brining old union leaders on board?

Of course, this time the machine will be rebuilt under the unitary leadership. There are few local caudillos within MORENA, and LO has shown that he is very much willing to slap down the few there are (greetings, Sr. Monreal). It is hard to see where any independent force may grow within the governing coalition. Unlike old priista presidents the new leader will be much less constrained from within the party. I mean, if anybody were to tell me 15 years ago I might miss good old Fidel V.....

I have learned much of what I know about power in Mexico from you. I wonder, why are you not thinking along the same lines?

Again, thinking along the lines of what you taught me about the way Mexican power functions. I would expect him to start as a good friend of "national" business. Any machinery needs oiling to run smoothly - he needs rents. Competition regulators will be an interesting area to look at.

The other area, of course, will be the electoral machinery. He does not trust it - and for a good reason: it is still independent. Unlike you I fully expect him to go for the 2021 "plebiscite": it is his pre-electoral promise, and it is very much in character. What I expect him to do is to run it largely or fully outside the INE system (if he needs the excuse, it could be the lack of constitutional authority). The objective, of course, will be, precisely, to get the country used to the idea that INE is not necessary for his version of "democracy." Chances are, he would still be popular enough to get a resounding confirmation of that popularity in any properly organized vote - but he will not want that.

Once again, where I expect to see the most important changes is in gutting the strength of all sorts of independent institutions. That is where the things that will really change Mexico will happen. Everything else, at least in the first couple of years will be more of a show.

If this does not kill the PRI, nothing will. Maybe this time they will have the decency of changing their name and not just say they are "new".

The have just changed their name. It is now MORENA.

I have a question. Why is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador always called....well by his full name? I've never heard any English language media calling Chavez as "Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias" except perhaps to give out that information once during an article to state his full name. Neither was Castro often called "Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz" or Michelle Bachelet called "Veronica Michelle Bachelet Jeria". So why not simply call him "President Lopez"?

Yesterday I heard an news anchor stumbling over the full name and I doubt "President AMLO" would go over well in news agency style guides.

I want to be flip and say, "It's just one of those things." But there is actually a three-part answer.

The first is that the premise is partially wrong. AMLO is called by his first name far more than other Latin American public figures, but it is very common to hear and see "López Obrador." He usually isn't referred to as simply "Lopez" because that's a very common name. To be fair, other people with common last names are often simply referred to by one of their last names (usually the paternal) but it's not uncommon.

The second is that he goes by "Andrés Manuel" rather than one of the other, which also isn't an uncommon thing for people with multiple first names.

At that point, then, you have someone who goes by "Andrés Manuel" as his first name for preference and "López Obrador" as his last to avoid confusion. The full name in all it's magnificence is as hard to say in Spanish as in English, and thus "AMLO" emerged as a neutral and rather euphonious shorthand.

American newscasters could just decide to emulate the Argentine press and call him "Andrés López Obrador" or just "Andrés López." It wouldn't be disrespectful. It just wouldn't be what they call him in Mexico.

I think it is hard to exaggerate the importance for democracy that the left show that it too can govern tolerably competently. The PAN, warts and all, has shown this I believe. The PRI failed and has been flayed nearly to death. I agree that is a gran cucaracha. The PAN should cooperate MORENO where it can for the public good while at the same time attacking relentlessly corruption, demagoguery, and incompetence for there will be plenty. Opposition at all costs, like the PRI did to Calderon, is no good. The PAN should shed the neoliberal crapola and emphasize something of a center-right christian-dem public goods platform. I think medium prospects for the PAN are quite good. The PRI, I think, is much too gutted to ever be the force it once was.

Also, Viejo, I posted this elsewhere. Discipline, I think, will be a challenge for MORENA.

"Morena has immense power now and won it fairly. But will it wield it well? I agree with my friend Alex Poire. that this will depend on discipline, its ability to compromise within its own house, as well as without with other parties, powerful economic oligarchs (foreign as well as domestic), the bureaucracy, the military, and the US. AMLO is a creature of the old PRI, whose discipline was marshal in scope and pretty ironclad. Ironically, the lack of within-party democracy was cancerous for the PRI as it was for AD and COPEI in Venezuela in the old days. Is MORENA too inchoate to exercise enough discipline? Will the new electoral rules weaken things? I ask because I have no idea. I wonder if MORENA has any idea.

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