While the government congratulates itself on the massive support for President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Sunday in the streets of the capital, academics consulted consider that the event was above all an exercise in ego, to gain muscle and regain leadership of the national agenda.
The march was called after the largest protest against his administration and on the eve of the debate on his electoral reform proposal.
The president managed to gather hundreds of thousands of supporters on Sunday days after tens of thousands of people critical of his government filled the center of the capital on November 13.
That protest was to defend the National Electoral Institute and in rejection of the current pro-government proposal that seeks to dismantle the body and change the electoral laws.
Georgina de la Fuente, a political scientist and election expert, said that no one doubts that “the president continues to have great traction and great approval.” But in her opinion, the unfortunate thing is that a mobilization is called from power, to counter an antagonistic movement, reaffirm the popularity of the president and recover the leadership of the “national narrative”.
“It was an attempt by the president to correct history” and make it clear that although many people criticize him “that does not mean that I have less support,” he added.
In his opinion, calling it the ‘carrying march’ —as many opponents have done— is wrong, since the event became a celebration. “What is shameless was the use of public resources, not just money, for a Morena partisan event,” he stressed.
The president was beaming on Monday at the success of the march, saying it was necessary to do it because people wanted to express their support for the changes in his government, adding that “it has an extraordinary effect.”
Before the event, he had insisted that “not one penny” of the public budget was used to encourage the march, but hundreds of trucks from all corners of the republic packed the capital in an unprecedented mobilizing effort and it was not clear who he paid for them. Some protesters pointed out that they arrived organized by the local government.
“The underlying problem is once again all the violations of the laws that calling for and publicizing the march from the presidency meant and using the public (communication) media to publicize and comment on it,” agreed Clara Jusidman, founder of INCIDE Social, an NGO specialized in democracy, development and human rights.
Jusidman, who in the past marched alongside the now president, did not doubt that Lopez Obrador took the protest in favor of the INE as a personal insult and not as a criticism of what is happening in the country and that is why he wanted to demonstrate his can. “It’s a feed to his own ego, to his own sense of being the one in control, the one who pulls the strings.”
However, it was quite a celebration and a demonstration of the president’s physical resistance. “Many took the opportunity to come cheer and see if they could touch the president whom they idolize.”
He added that the sad thing is that the president is returning to that Mexican tradition of the past “of not allowing people to organize, of fighting organizations, of being the only direct interlocutor with the people.”
This pulse between the different mobilizations takes place when the president begins his last year of effective government, since the last of each six-year term is more focused on the following elections. And on the eve of Tuesday’s full electoral reform proposal being debated.
The initiative, as it stands, would need a qualified majority because it entails changes to the constitution and Morena and her allies lack sufficient parliamentary support. Therefore, if his rejection was verified, the president announced that a “Plan B” would be presented to try to save what can be done with minor laws and without touching the constitution.
The reform intends, among other points, to eliminate the electoral authorities of the states, that the referees for the votes are chosen by the citizens -and not by Congress- and that the budget of the parties be reduced. His main argument is that the current INE is too expensive for Mexico.
De la Fuente wanted to highlight that the march in favor of the INE had added importance because it was the first time that Mexicans demonstrated to defend an institution.
The majority of experts and academics support that the electoral laws can be reformed and improved but insist that there be a process of dialogue and consensus so that the changes benefit the democracy of a country.
Source: El Nuevo Herald