11162018Fri
Last updateFri, 16 Nov 2018 2pm

Morena sweeps Congress, hands new president a blank check?

Barely five years after its affiliation as an official party, Morena (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional) has become Mexico’s dominant political force.

Morena candidates won races across the board on the coattails of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s remarkable landslide triumph in Sunday’s presidential election.

Although the official results won’t be confirmed until Sunday, it is almost certain that the “Let’s Make History” coalition – comprising Morena and two minor parties (Partido del Trabajo and Partido Encuentro Social) – will have an overall majority (312 of 500 seats) in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate (69 of 128 seats).  The Morena coalition also holds unassailable leads in five of the nine governorships that were up for grabs on Sunday: Veracruz. Tabasco, Chiapas, Morelos and in Mexico City, where Claudia Sheinbaum will become the capital’s first female government chief.

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National Action Party (PAN) candidates look to have won the gubernatorial races in the Yucatan and Puebla, although a series of voting irregularities and violent incidents were reported in the latter state.  Enrique Alfaro of the fledgling Citizens Movement won in Jalisco (see story page 1).

The Morena coalition also triumphed widely in mayoral and state congressional races across the country – it is estimated the party will govern around 53 percent of the Mexican population.

The redrawing of Mexico’s political map will give the new president a broad mandate to carry out his election pledges.  In the  aftermath of his victory, Lopez Obrador immediately vowed to improve the pensions of Mexico’s elderly and invest in job creation programs for the country’s youth.  But while passing budgets and additional spending bills to reshape Mexico’s social imbalances may not be a problem, he will face difficulty in reforming Mexico’s Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority in both houses.  This would be required if the new president followed through with his promise to reverse the reforms approved during the Peña Nieto administration that opened up the energy sector to foreign investment.

While some analysts have warned of the risks of having a single dominant party controlling Congress, willing to do the bidding of a single-minded, populist chief executive, others have welcomed the new political scenario, believing that a president, for the first time in decades, can enact essential legislation without having to compromise with opposition parties.

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