Politics: The fate of 4T is riding on Campaign 2021

MEXICO - Report 11 Jan 2021 by Guillermo Valdes and Francisco González

President López Obrador’s 2021 political agenda will have a clear "before and after" straddling the June 6 elections. Until that date his main and perhaps only priority will be to pull off another historical victory at the polls. At a bare minimum that means retaining control over the lower chamber of Congress, but also deploying candidates in thousands of state and local races, including 15 state gubernatorial contests.

Sitting presidents always set their sights on consolidating and expanding their power during the midterms, but never has the objective of a decisive win been so important as it is to AMLO now that the pandemic and the related economic crisis have disrupted his governing project, have led to disappointing results and cut short the time available to realize his administration’s objectives. And losing control of the Chamber of Deputies would make that task all the more improbable and signal a presidency in decline. Moreover, López Obrador has always believed his Fourth Transformation (4T) project would require more than his sole six-year term of office to deliver the promised results and consolidate them as a thorough remaking of the country. Only by maintaining control of Congress can he continue to advance toward those objectives and enjoy the leeway to rewrite election rules and general policies at will so as to favor the electoral fortunes of the parties backing his regime and send Morena into the 2024 presidential election with commanding lead.

All of this underscores the obvious: The president’s main and perhaps only priority will be to achieve victory June 6 — at a bare minimum retaining control over the lower chamber of Congress — and he will refocus all of his energies and every move on achieving that goal. All of his decisions, policies, public works, speeches and actions will be directed at that objective. Given the extensive campaign experience he has accumulated over many decades and the main themes he has managed in the past two years, presidential efforts will be centered around an intensification of his public actions to weed out corruption, making his social programs more effective, and trying to inoculate the population against Covid-19, three prongs that could prove highly profitable on election day.

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