Politics: 2020 challenges and political agenda

MEXICO - Report 13 Jan 2020 by Guillermo Valdes, Alejandro Hope Pinsón and Francisco González

After a year in office, President Andrés López Obrador’s main achievement appears to be his successful bid to sell his political project to a population anxious for much-promised change. While concrete results as such have been meager, AMLO’s popularity remains high, with approval levels between 58% and 72% depending on who’s doing the polling. AMLO’s tremendous popularity has been underpinned by his symbolic and dramatic actions, hopes for change in the future, the population’s patience and willingness to give the President the benefit of the doubt, and the absence of an effective political opposition. At the same time, results have been modest, with low economic growth, an open and gnawing crisis in public security, and inefficiency in the design and implementation of public policies.

AMLO's main challenges in 2020 include correcting the factors that weaken governance, restoring private sector confidence, designing a fiscal reform, improving the functioning and efficiency of his much touted social programs, radically modifying public security policies and reducing the political polarization in society. However, none of this appears to be on AMLO’s agenda for 2020. The most likely variant is for a continued erratic relationship with the private sector, the persistence of financial difficulties given AMLO’s refusal to consider a fiscal reform before 2021, and a reluctance to make changes in the presidential cabinet.

Therefore, the foreseeable scenario is that this year will be very similar to 2019, both in form and substance. The results of the government’s actions are unlikely to improve much, and the costs of inefficiency will increase. In the short term, the president’s popularity may cushion the impact of the poor results, but that is likely to mean a gradual but steady erosion of AMLO's political capital in the medium term.

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