Politics: Democratic perception paradox

MEXICO - Report 08 Jul 2019 by Guillermo Valdes, Alejandro Hope Pinsón and Francisco González

At a time when many political analysts, as well as social and economic agents, are growingly increasingly alarmed that aspects of President López Obrador's project and style of governing are leading to an excessive concentration of power that if left unchecked could lead to democratic regression, public satisfaction with the way democracy is working in Mexico is at an all-time high. In fact, for the first time in the 21 years that GEA-ISA has been conducting a quarterly survey of registered voters, a majority of people say they are satisfied with the way the system is working, almost a direct reversal from the levels seen in March and a dramatic shift from past years in which naysayers outnumbered optimists by more than three to one. Moreover, those surveyed expressed greater confidence in the national election board even as members of the incumbent party are pushing to overhaul it.

Adding to that paradox, the political party system on which a good part of Mexican democracy is predicated remains broken. With the exception of the incumbent Morena, and to a much lesser extent the PAN, the very weak image and electoral strength of parties reflects the depth of the internal crises in which most of them are mired.

Although public support for López Obrador remains overwhelming, even Morena, his own party, has been slipping in the polls, a reflection of the clumsy way the government has tried to replace existing social programs and deliver on many other promises, as well as the sharp erosion of support some Morena governors in key states have suffered at this early stage of their respective administrations. Voter preferences for the incumbent party have dropped 14 percentage points since December while those for the PAN climbed by five points, although it is still only half as popular as Morena.

Individual members of Congress affiliated with Morena have introduced bills that would change key parts of the electoral system, including how the election board is managed. Such a reform could put the opposition at an even greater disadvantage.

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