22:27 GMT +319 October 2019
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    Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives a press conference in Mexico City

    Mexican President-Elect Likely to Fall Short of Campaign Vows - Analysts

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Mexico's newly elected President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will unlikely institute entirely transformative policy changes, attempting but failing to fully fulfill his campaign promises on anti-corruption, revising energy reforms, and redefining Mexico’s relationship with the United States, analysts told Sputnik.

    According to results released by the National Electoral Institute of Mexico on Monday on the 2018 Mexican general election, Obrador secured 53 percent of the vote, while ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena gained 15.7 percent of the votes, Ricardo Anaya Cortes from the Civil Front for Mexico received 22 percent of votes, and Jaime Heliodoro Rodriguez Calderon – around 5 percent of the vote.

    All Obrador's opponents have already recognized their defeat and congratulated him on the victory.

    Difficulty Eradicating Corruption

    In a speech broadcast by TV Azteca on Monday, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly known as AMLO, vowed to eradicate corruption in Mexico. He stated that corruption was the main cause of social and economic inequality, as well as the root of violence in the country. The promotion of an anti-corruption agenda was also a prominent feature of Obrador’s campaign.

    Dr. Jose Angel Garcia, an associate fellow at the Crick Centre and lecturer at Anahuac and UDLA Mexico, however, sees that despite the clearly stated intention to eradicate corruption in Mexico, Obrador has not proposed specific policies to tackle the issue.

    "Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador successfully capitalized in this public sentiment to create a political campaign narrative centered in his intention to eradicate PRI's recent and high-profile rampant corruption. Nevertheless, neither he nor his team provided clear policy paths to achieve this goal," Garcia said.

    Garcia argues that such proposals as implementing clear and transparent procurement processes for new contracts would be difficult to supervise at any level that would require the creation of new institutions. Other proposals, such as the statement in Obrador’s anti-corruption plan that would allegedly allow the government to save $25 billion, lack analytic backing.

    READ MORE: Mexican President-Elect Obrador Pledges ‘Understanding’ With Trump

    Dr Rodolfo Hernandez Guerrero, the director of International Partnership Development (IPD) and senior adviser to the Center for US-Latin America Initiatives at The University of Texas at Dallas, stated that another obstacle facing Obrador in his anti-corruption agenda is the fact that corruption is intrinsic in Mexican institutions.

    "It will be challenging for Lopez Obrador and his administration, his cabinet, to really clean the institutions from corruption because there are very sophisticated processes that exist in Mexico. To really be part of the political daily routine, corruption exists, corruption is part of those decisions and part of those political processes," Guerrero said.

    According to Transparency International, Mexico ranks at 135 out of 180 countries in the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index. In a report produced by the World Bank in 2017, corruption for Mexico was labeled as a costly problem, making up as much as 9 percent of the country’s GDP.

    Guerrero added that not only institutions are at fault of corruption, but Obrador will also have to deal with endemic corruption prevalent in the populace.

    "Lopez Obrador may have all the intentions to be elaborating, to be designing practices for Mexico to scale back corruption, but actually you know the real challenge is at the individual level, for Mexicans to realize the importance of being co-responsible in the daily political routine of Mexico at promoting the cases of corruption," Guerrero said.

    Energy Reforms to Stay

    Throughout his presidential campaign, Obrador consistently argued against the energy reforms introduced under the PRI, speaking in favor of pausing new contracts for oil and gas.

    In December 2013 Obrador’s predecessor, President Pena Nieto passed constitutional energy reform, which allows the secretary of energy to grant licenses to private institutions for all operations such as refining, transport, and management of gas stations and opened up new investment opportunities in the energy field. It ended the monopoly of state-owned energy companies, Pemex and CFE in their respective sectors.

    Garcia stated that it is more than likely that contracts for oil and gas will remain in place, as to cancel them at this point would result in a loss of business confidence.

    "I expect that existing contracts remain in place. Their abrupt cancellation would wipe away business confidence in Mexico, trigger hefty penalty fines to pay by a government that not only intends to but will need to reduce public expenditure in its first year," Garcia said.

    Moreover, Garcia added that Obrador, though highly critical of energy reforms, did not mention the complete reversal of the reform in his manifesto, indicating only the need to maximize state-owned Pemex’s production and reduce the country’s international energy dependency.

    READ MORE: Trump Thinks Mexico's President-Elect Will Help US With Border

    According to statistics by the US Energy Information Administration, Mexico is one of the largest producers of oil in the world, and as of January 2018 produced 1.9 million barrels of oil per day.

    Guerrero concurred that Obrador will unlikely fulfill his campaign promises of reversing energy reform, but that he will make certain that any future contracts in the energy sector correspond to his aim of focusing on social justice in Mexico.

    "Now in practical terms, Lopez Obrador will stop the energy reform – I don’t think so. It will continue but he will be careful, observing, and very critical of that process to ensure that if this is happening it is going to happen with a strong sense of justice for Mexicans, especially in terms of social justice," Guerrero said.

    Garcia stated that any reform that Obrador would want to pass in Mexico would have to be mindful of the largest oil-producing states.

    "AMLO will need to pay particular attention to any positive or negative consequences that changing the energy reform would produce in states like Tabasco, Veracruz and Chiapas, three of Mexico's most important oil producer states and which will be governed by [National Regeneration Movement] MORENA," Garcia said.

    Compromise With US on the Horizon

    Writing in his official Twitter, Obrador said on Monday that in a phone conversation with US President Donald Trump he had proposed the creation of an agreement on development projects that would create jobs in Mexico, at the same time reducing migration and improving border security. Obrador stated that the conversation had been conducted respectfully.

    Guerrero stated that the phone conversation demonstrated the willingness of Obrador and Trump to work on reviving the US-Mexico relationship.

    "So it seems that given the momentum, I think there is a great opportunity for both presidents, of the United States and Mexico to innovate and to refresh this tradition partnership between the United States and Mexico," Guerrero said, speaking specifically about this phone conversation.

    However, Guerrero warned that Obrador was likely to stand tough on Mexico’s side if Trump or the US president’s administration were to behave as if Mexico and the United States were not equal partners in the relationship.

    READ MORE: 'Listen Up, Trump': Key Issues Mexico's President-Elect Poised to Deal With

    Obrador, during his presidential campaign, has been critical of Trump and his administration. He has also published a book in 2017, titled "Oye, Trump" which outlined his position on Mexico’s migration policy and his disapproval for a wall dividing the US-Mexico border, as previously proposed by Trump.

    Garcia added that Obrador would seek to refrain from further ties with the United States by undermining Mexico’s dependency on trade with the United States.

    "With President Trump in power at least until 2021, we could see AMLO seeking to reduce Mexico's dependency on commerce with the USA, particularly due to the current context surrounding [North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA] negotiations," Garcia said.

    Mexico, as part of NAFTA, is affected by US President Trump’s sharp criticism of the trade block and threat to pull the United States out of the agreement if a better deal is not negotiated.

    According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, Mexico is the third largest goods trading partner for the United States, with around $557 billion in goods traded both ways in 2017. The total goods and services trade between the United States and Mexico in 2017 was $616.6 billion.

    Garcia added that despite Obrador's promise to reduce Mexico's dependency on the United States, Obrador may try to reach a compromise, by negotiating a better deal for Mexico in NAFTA but simultaneously conceding on US demands on border security.

    "It might also be the case that we see a tit-for-tat negotiation involving border security (and migration) and NAFTA negotiations," Garcia said.

    Garcia stated that Mexico would likely shift its attention to EU countries and Asia in terms of trade, especially to those countries with which Mexico has already signed free trade agreements.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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