That Lopez Obrador has an interesting political strategy

Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador?s strategy to reverse the results in Mexico’s presidential election is starting to confuse me. Consider this Financial Times story by Adam Thomson: Ever since Mr L?pez Obrador, leftwing candidate in the election for president on July 2, lost by a razor-thin 244,000 votes to Felipe Calder?n of the ruling centre-right National ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador?s strategy to reverse the results in Mexico's presidential election is starting to confuse me. Consider this Financial Times story by Adam Thomson: Ever since Mr L?pez Obrador, leftwing candidate in the election for president on July 2, lost by a razor-thin 244,000 votes to Felipe Calder?n of the ruling centre-right National Action party, he has been ?fighting to save democracy?.... In a rare interview, Mr L?pez Obrador told the Financial Times at the weekend that not only would his struggle continue but that it would also become more radical and incorporate new acts of ?civil resistance? to press his case. All this has come as little surprise to his critics, who brand the silver-haired 52-year-old simply as an unreformed leftist campaigner with an authoritarian streak and scant regard for legal process. They would probably be unsurprised, too, to learn what Mr L?pez Obrador is reading: Sources on the History of the Mexican Revolution, a large leather-bound book with gold leaf on the spine. ?You have to know history to know what to do in circumstances . . .?, he says before tailing off into silence. Mr L?pez Obrador has been reading about Jos? Vasconcelos, a prominent revolutionary figure who later put down his loss in the 1929 presidential election to fraud and called on supporters to begin an armed struggle. And like that of Vasconcelos, Mr L?pez Obrador is aware that the story of his own struggle might be retold for future generations. ?Never in this country?s history has an opposition movement managed to bring together so many people,? he says. ?This is a historic moment because the next few days will define the future of democracy in Mexico, the role of the institutions and respect for the constitution.?.... As a political strategy, however, most analysts believe the call for peaceful civil resistance is a big mistake. The resulting traffic chaos from the blockade of Reforma has annoyed many residents in the capital, which is by far Mr L?pez Obrador?s biggest support base. An increasingly radical strategy may also alienate members of his own party, which did well at the legislative level. Before long, they argue, instead of becoming a new Vasconcelos, he may find himself a lonely ? and insignificant ? character. Mr L?pez Obrador admits that ?there has been a drain of support? since he began his civil resistance campaign. He also accepts that less than half the population supports him in his struggle. In the capital, for example, he believes he now has the backing of 38 per cent of citizens. But he insists that he had no option but to challenge the authorities. ?You can?t stop them unless you take these kinds of steps. The way to fight fraud and to overcome the news blackout is what we are doing now,? he says. ?If we hadn?t taken Reforma [the occupied avenue], we would not exist.? (emphases added) If this Bloomberg report by Patrick Harrington and Adriana Arai is accurate, the sit-in in Mexico City cost his party votes in Chiapas. If Lopez Obrador knows that his "permanent protest" campaign is causing him to lose support, and there is no indication that the protests to date are affecting the legal part of the electoral process, how is this Mexican standoff going to end?

Andr?s Manuel L?pez Obrador?s strategy to reverse the results in Mexico’s presidential election is starting to confuse me. Consider this Financial Times story by Adam Thomson:

Ever since Mr L?pez Obrador, leftwing candidate in the election for president on July 2, lost by a razor-thin 244,000 votes to Felipe Calder?n of the ruling centre-right National Action party, he has been ?fighting to save democracy?…. In a rare interview, Mr L?pez Obrador told the Financial Times at the weekend that not only would his struggle continue but that it would also become more radical and incorporate new acts of ?civil resistance? to press his case. All this has come as little surprise to his critics, who brand the silver-haired 52-year-old simply as an unreformed leftist campaigner with an authoritarian streak and scant regard for legal process. They would probably be unsurprised, too, to learn what Mr L?pez Obrador is reading: Sources on the History of the Mexican Revolution, a large leather-bound book with gold leaf on the spine. ?You have to know history to know what to do in circumstances . . .?, he says before tailing off into silence. Mr L?pez Obrador has been reading about Jos? Vasconcelos, a prominent revolutionary figure who later put down his loss in the 1929 presidential election to fraud and called on supporters to begin an armed struggle. And like that of Vasconcelos, Mr L?pez Obrador is aware that the story of his own struggle might be retold for future generations. ?Never in this country?s history has an opposition movement managed to bring together so many people,? he says. ?This is a historic moment because the next few days will define the future of democracy in Mexico, the role of the institutions and respect for the constitution.?…. As a political strategy, however, most analysts believe the call for peaceful civil resistance is a big mistake. The resulting traffic chaos from the blockade of Reforma has annoyed many residents in the capital, which is by far Mr L?pez Obrador?s biggest support base. An increasingly radical strategy may also alienate members of his own party, which did well at the legislative level. Before long, they argue, instead of becoming a new Vasconcelos, he may find himself a lonely ? and insignificant ? character. Mr L?pez Obrador admits that ?there has been a drain of support? since he began his civil resistance campaign. He also accepts that less than half the population supports him in his struggle. In the capital, for example, he believes he now has the backing of 38 per cent of citizens. But he insists that he had no option but to challenge the authorities. ?You can?t stop them unless you take these kinds of steps. The way to fight fraud and to overcome the news blackout is what we are doing now,? he says. ?If we hadn?t taken Reforma [the occupied avenue], we would not exist.? (emphases added)

If this Bloomberg report by Patrick Harrington and Adriana Arai is accurate, the sit-in in Mexico City cost his party votes in Chiapas. If Lopez Obrador knows that his “permanent protest” campaign is causing him to lose support, and there is no indication that the protests to date are affecting the legal part of the electoral process, how is this Mexican standoff going to end?

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

Tag: Theory

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