Mexico elects left-wing president in rejection of status quo

2 Jul 18

MEXICO

IMPACT – MEDIUM

Mexico has elected Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) Party in a landslide victory that signals a decisive rejection of the political and economic establishment.

Lopez Obrador, known by his initials “AMLO,” captured more than 50 percent of the vote and more than double that of second-place finisher Ricardo Anaya of the National Action Party (PAN), who won 23 percent of the vote, trailed by Jose Antonio Meade, a business-friendly former finance minister of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, who tallied 15 percent. The Morena Party is also projected to win majorities in both houses of Congress, but fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to make major constitutional reforms.

A former mayor of Mexico City and two-time presidential candidate, in 2006 and 2012, Lopez Obrador ran on a platform of change, promising more spending on social programs for the poor, students, the elderly and farmers by tackling corruption and reducing salaries and pensions of top public officials. Popular discontent has run high in Mexico over recent political corruption scandals, drug-related crime and violence, and growing inequality.

Businesses expressed concern that Lopez Obrador may roll back private investment in the oil sector, but his campaign promised only to review oil contracts for corruption and this has not become official yet. Regarding relations with the United States, Lopez Obrador, the author of a book entitled “Oye, Trump! Saying Yes to a New Start for Mexico, Saying No to a Wall,” was a vocal critic of U.S. President Donald Trump, as were the other Mexican candidates, but he called for “friendship and mutual respect” with the U.S. After Sunday’s election, he said he favors the re-signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and Canada, but supports the current negotiating team. Talks have been contentious as Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the pact.

Lopez Obrador will take office Dec. 1.

BAL Analysis: While Lopez Obrador’s election signals some unpredictability and perhaps a less business-friendly environment, it is too early to tell whether or to what extent his policies will affect high-skilled immigration. However, the most immediate consequence will be the change in directors of agencies, including the National Migration Institute (INM) and delays in immigration processing that such changes in staff are likely to cause. Applicants should anticipate delays and employers may need to adjust business schedules as a result.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Mexico. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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