Most Mexicans thought Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had blown his chance of ever becoming the nation’s president when he finished runner-up in the 2012 election.
It was the fiery leftist’s second attempt (he failed by a whisker in 2006, loosing to Felipe Calderon) and the general consensus was that he would be too old (64) and too burned out to make a third run in 2018.
But AMLO, as he is often referred to, is stubborn and tenacious, and refused to be put out to pasture. He quit the left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), formed his own movement (later a political party), Morena, and traveled all around the country for the next five years, meeting and reaching out to the millions of Mexicans who increasingly felt their leaders only had their own interests at heart.
Then Mexico’s body count increased, the economy stagnated, and the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto became mired in corruption and controversy. Rather than a savior, Lopez Obrador was increasingly seen as the “only real alternative for change in Mexico,” to use the words of many voters Sunday. His populist, anti-establishment message – so often scorned by the business and political elite – began to resonate across the social spectrum, mostly to the detriment of the decaying Partido Revolutionary Institutional (PRI), whose decades-long grip on the hearts and minds of the working classes was slowly being pried loose.