Is Mexico Next to Succumb to Democratic Erosion? by Donyea Grayson @University of California Los Angeles
Mexico’s presidential election is right around the corner. July 1st, 2018 is when general elections take place and this could completely change the future of Mexico and its many citizens. At the start of election season there were roughly 85 candidates after the position. Now with just a few short months to go until election day some of the candidates are pulling away from the masses and separating themselves as frontrunners. The main frontrunner at the moment is the former mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, better known by his initials Amlo, is the MORENA candidate for this year’s elections. He is most definitely a prominent figure on the political playing field with his political history and has been an active member of partisan politics for the last 40 years. Not to mention, he is vowing to completely turn around the current government in Mexico and end corruption, so the people are eating right out of his hands. He is using Mexico’s widespread hate for the current party and Trump to stir up a populist movement. Now this doesn’t sound too bad at all, I mean Amlo is making some pretty enticing promises to the citizens about what he will do in office if he is elected. However, by flipping the current government upside down and enacting a populist movement he is straying away from the democratic values of the country. The fear is democratic erosion and a deconsolidated democracy.
Mexico’s government has already been through a lot throughout history. It has gone all over the spectrum from dictatorship to republic to democracy. Its current democratic state is actually fairly recent in comparison to other democracies. In fact, many would not consider Mexico to be a completely consolidated democracy, where democracy is the only game in town. Many citizens still yearn for the days where elections weren’t so complicated. This is why people are so quick to latch onto Amlo’s populist train. But, is Mexico ready for populism? Everyone knows populism is the first step to democratic erosion and ultimately a deconsolidated democracy.
As stated before, a consolidated democracy is a democracy where democracy has become the only game in town, culturally, constitutionally, and behaviorally. This means that the majority of the state’s population believes democracy is the best form of government, all of the major actors of the state practice democratic norms, and there are no significant groups attempting to overthrow the government or separate themselves from the rest of the state. By this logic we safely assume a deconsolidated democracy is the opposite of this and the end result of democratic erosion. This seems to be the path Amlo wants to lead Mexican politics if he is elected, and judging by the predicted election results, he will in fact be elected with a whopping 15% lead over the candidate with the second most votes.
Culturally, a deconsolidated democracy is one where the majority of people believe that democracy is not the best government. If the country were to be asked about their values and approval of the democracy then it would show that overall there is a weaker approval of democratic values. Amlo is building his following on the grounds that if elected he will take on President Donald Trump, the president of one of the most well-known and consolidated democracies in the world. He is literally saying he will oppose the leader of a country who prides itself on its democratic values. He is also in fact a populist politician who is rallying around the idea of not just him versus Trump and the current administration of Mexico, but the people versus Trump and the current administration of Mexico. Clearly, he is not in support of democratic values and his followers, the people of Mexico, are not either.
Constitutionally, a deconsolidated democracy is one where the main people in charge of the state no longer reflect democratic norms and practices. So, in the case of Mexico that would mean that people such as the President, members of Congress, or they mayors of cities no longer value democratic values. Amlo who is the former mayor of Mexico City and might possibly be the next President of Mexico would be a major influence on whether or not the main actors and organs of the state would reflect democratic values or norms. So, if elected into office Amlo could potentially change the practices and norms of the major actors and organs with ease considering the amount of influence he would have once elected.
Behaviorally, a deconsolidated democracy has no groups of people that are actively attempting to overthrow the current government or secede from the state. This is currently not the case in Mexico but it looks to be the future of Mexico if Amlo is elected. Amlo is completely against the current government; he claims it is corrupt. This is making his followers want to overthrow the current government. He also claims that if he is in office he will completely remodel things which those who are in support of the current administration will not be happy about. This could create polarization between the two parties and cause there to be a constant crowd of unhappy people who would like to overthrow the current government.
Amlo is creating a storm that looks like it is going to end a deconsolidated democracy. Right now, it is looking pretty bleak for Mexican democracy. Populist candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is still currently the frontrunner this year’s Mexico presidential elections. However, this is politics and predictions are not always accurate and anything could change overnight.
Piccone, Ted. “Next Wave of Elections in Latin America Will TestDemocraticResilience.” Brookings, Brookings, 27 Nov. 2017, www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/10/30/next wave-of-elections-in-latin-america-will-test-democratic-resilience/.
Rattan, Nacha. “Mexico Might Elect Its Own Populist to Take on Trump.” Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg L. P., 15 Feb. 2018, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-16/mexico might-elect-its-own-populist-to-take-on-trump-quicktake.
Rodriguez, Carlos M. “Mexican Election Coverage.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 26 Feb. 2018, www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-mexican-election/
Norris, Pippa. “Is Western Democracy Backsliding? Diagnosing the Risks.” SSRN Electronic
Ruiz, Ulises. “Call Me AMLO.” Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg L. P., Mexico, 15 Feb. 2018, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-16/mexico-might-elect-its-own-populist-to-take-on-trump-quicktake.