Domingo, 20 de Octubre de 2019
Última actualización: 10:47 CEST

Mexico: An Illiberal Cocktail

Andrés Manuel López Obrador. (E CONSULTA)

If the platform advanced by Andrés Manuel López Obrador is endorsed by voters on 1 July, the Mexican political order will shift, and radically. This is because the alliance and government project in question combine several factors - individually and, especially, collectively - that will place great stress on the precarious polyarchy developed in recent decades.

The first is the old charismatic style of leadership exercised by López Obrador. He demonstrated his “personalist” decisionmaking when he governed by overriding his own Legislative Assembly in Mexico City. He did not even find the deliberations of a politically loyal and ideologically akin force acceptable at the time. If that was already the case when he was under surveillance and pressure from the Federal Government, what will it be like when he is the head of its Executive?

Secondly, we are dealing with a party forged around a leader, where vertical decisionmaking and loyalty to the boss appear to prevail over its platform, forming the cornerstones of its political action. The removal of candidates who have historically been committed to the movement, and the recent alliance with the worst representatives of the power mafia,confirm the all-encompassingnature of the National Regeneration Movement (Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional; or Morena), and the contradictions of what was once an organization committed to the progressive transformation of Mexico.

Thirdly, there is the possibility of the party securing a majority in the Legislative branch, and a good portion of the territorial governments, which would reduce any counterbalance by the opposition to a minimum. This factor is aggravated by the slim chances - in a climate of political polarization - of reaching agreements to pass the new reform measures that the country needs, and by the foreseeable demoralization and collapses that will take place in the rival parties (PAN, PRI, PRD) if Lopez Obrador’s party manages to attain political hegemony.

To these three political/institutional factors we can add another two sociocultural ones.  First, apolitical culture prone to favor order and hierarchy, little inclined to respect the law and democratic pluralism. This is a worldview shared by radical representatives of the Marxist Left, revolutionary nationalism, along with corporate conservatives and (old and new) religious fundamentalists. Then there is a population eager for radical and rapid changes, and, as such, likely to tolerate the imposition of decisions as a way to advance an "agenda of change."

But not everything augurs poorly for the potential new government. A realignment of elite segments, the middle strata and workers - with López Obrador as arbitrator and Morena as a pivot point - could, perhaps, reinvigorate some degree of national capitalism and expand the (sorely deficient) redistribution of wealth; a kind of new "old PRI", and more personal.

However, the cocktail resulting from the sum of the factors mentioned above tends towards delegative democracyin today’sglobal atmosphere, and is prone to breeding iliberalism, on both the Left and Right, in the West and beyond. This is a model that, depending on social resistance, internal readjustments and foreign pressures exerted upon the new hegemonic bloc, could lead in the medium term (2024) to democratic alternation in power, or, in the worst scenario, competitive authoritarianism.

 This article originally appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Razón. It is published here with the author's permission.