Last Tuesday, August 8, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was officially declared president-elect of Mexico. Now it is time for the official opposition to position itself as the clear alternative for the Mexican people.
So far, the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) are the parties that have jockeyed to position themselves as the true opposition to the future government. However, in the wake of presidential and legislative elections, both have been strongly rebuked by the Mexican electorate, so it will be necessary for them to propose an alternative that is sufficiently attractive, if they have any hope of regaining their former political prominence.
Importance of the opposition for the future government
It is “of fundamental importance” that there be a real opposition, noted analyst and university professor Gerardo Garibay in an interview with the PanAm Post. López Obrador was not only the first president in the history of Mexico to be elected by absolute majority, but also the first president whose party, National Regeneration Movement (Morena), will have a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
Of nine state governments, López Obrador’s party won five, as well as a majority in nineteen of twenty-seven local legislatures.
“Most of Obrador’s agenda they will not be able to stop, but it is very important to maintain vigilance within the institutional framework,” said the expert.
Garibay warned that if the opposition fails to regain its political position, in 2021, when midterm elections are to be held, López Obrador could have almost complete control of the country.
“Several states hold elections over the next two years and it is important to stop the advance of Morena at the local level,” he said, stressing that if changes are not made, after 2021 Obrador could achieve “a majority of two thirds in the Congress and control most of the local legislatures,” which is what is needed to reform the Constitution of the country and it is there “where the real damage can be done,” he warned.
What should the opposition do?
Gerardo Garibay said that the country desperately needs a viable political and even logistical institutional alternative to Morena, and for this the opposition should start working on its repositioning.
“Now they are just licking their wounds” after the electoral defeat, he said, but stressed that soon they must regroup and be ready to “take the lead in formulating an opposition agenda.”
“In a few weeks, PAN must begin to reform its national leadership and by December announce what its policy positions will be; the PRI basically must do the same,” he said.
Until now, what has been clear is that both parties are opposed to any populist measures, but, according to Garibay, now the parties should focus not only on demonstrating that, but also on creating alternative proposals.
The first thing they should focus on is generating a contrast with the legislative agenda that the government of López Obrador is going to propose, while also dealing with local issues for the next elections.
“Now what they are doing is showing the hypocrisies and the acts of dubious ethics of the new government, but they should not fall into the trap of opposing AMLO merely for the sake of being in the opposition, because even when it’s valid for the short term, in the long term they need to build their own movement and brand,” he said.
Both PRI and PAN must correct their errors in political matters to build and make effective their work in the opposition.
“Now all they can do is to hope for the best; that PAN and PRI manage to rise from the ashes and propose an alternative that is attractive, congruent, and clear before López Obrador,” he concluded.