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Leftist ‘Mexican Trump’ Lopez Obrador sweeps presidential election

Leftist ‘Mexican Trump’ Lopez Obrador sweeps presidential election

In a result pollsters have been predicting for several weeks, three-time presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador pulled out a convincing victory in Mexico’s general elections on Sunday, emerging nearly 30 points ahead of his closest rival.

Obrador ran as a left-wing populist championing Mexico’s poor and railing against the corrupt political establishment in the country, which has led some to compare him with US President Donald Trump.

He’s also promised more government support for higher education, social benefits for the elderly, and amnesties for drug cartel members.

His new political party, ‘Morena’ also coasted to victory in congressional elections, gaining full control of both houses, which should enable Obrador to push through his reformist agenda without much opposition.

Here are the numbers from the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. López Obrador got nearly 54% of the vote, according to more than half the ballots counted by Mexico’s election agency. That was more than 30 percentage points more than his closest rival, conservative Ricardo Anaya, who tallied about 23% of the vote. José Antonio Meade of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, garnered just 15% of the vote…

Mr. López Obrador’s coalition, led by his Movement for National Regeneration, or Morena, also claimed an outright majority in both houses of Mexico’s congress, winning 312 of 500 seats in the lower house and 72 of 128 seats in the senate, according to estimates by the election agency seen by The Wall Street Journal. It also won four of eight state governor races, and Mexico City’s mayor’s office.

In foreign affairs, Obrador will face several thorny issues currently putting Mexico at odds with the US, including illegal migration, drug cartel violence along the border, and struggling negotiations over NAFTA.

Even so, Trump and Obrador exchanged formal messages of greeting which may bode well for a future respectful tone:

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Early Monday, Mr. Lopez Obrador thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for sending congratulations on Sunday night. He said Mexico would look to keep a respectful relationship with the Trump administration. President Donald Trump congratulated Mr. López Obrador in a tweet, saying, “I look very much forward to working with him.”

“We are not going to fight,” Mr. López Obrador told Televisa network. “We will extend our open hand to look for a relationship of friendship with the U.S.” He added he would act “with a lot of prudence” in any response to Mr. Trump’s often bellicose tweets.

Though some commentators have expressed alarm at Obrador’s leftist rhetoric, he has insisted he plans no extreme socialist measures, such as land redistribution.

Nevertheless, the election signals a win for the left in Latin America, following losses in past years in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and the economic collapse of socialist Venezuela.

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