Analysis of the dangers and prospects surrounding one of Mexico’s most important elections from the México Solidarity Project and Mexico Solidarity Forum.

Electoral background

The political situation in Mexico is dictated by the coming general election (2nd June 2024) that will elect the president, 128 senators, 500 deputies and 20,079 local positions (9 governorships, municipal presidencies, thousands of councillors, etc.).

There are three important presidential candidates:

  • Claudia Sheinbaum (MORENA, PVEM, PT), one of the founders of MORENA, Mayor of Mexico City (2018-23), supported by the coalition 4 Transformation (4T) Sigamos Haciendo Historia.
  • Xochitl Galvez (PRI, PAN, PRD); senator for the PAN, supported by coalition Frente Amplio (she was mayor of Miguel Hidalgo in Mexico City), and appointed by Vicente Fox as director of National Institute of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Jorge Alvarez Maynez (Movimiento Ciudadano), a small party whose position is that the ‘old politics’ (PRI, PAN, PRD, including MORENA) ought to make way for the young, like himself. His candidacy aims at getting votes away from the 4T.
Right wing candidate Xochitl Galvez

In the 2018 election, the coalition led by AMLO won the presidency with 53% of the vote; the PAN candidate, Ricardo Anaya, scored 22%, and the PRI candidate, Jose Meade, got 16%, plus an Independent, Jaime Rodriguez, with 5%. MORENA and allies got a total of 69 senators, the PRI-led coalition 21, and the PAN-led coalition 38. With regards to Congress, MORENA got 308 deputies, the PRI-led 63, and the PAN-led 129. 

In terms of the popular vote, AMLO’s coalition (AMLO, acronym for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador by which Mexico’s current president is widely known) won in 31 of the 32 states, the only exception was Guanajuato. Plus, AMLO’s presidency enjoyed absolute majorities in both houses of parliament until the federal election for Congress in June 2021. 

In the 2021 mid-terms, MORENA-led coalition got 278 deputies, and the PAN-PRI-PRD coalition got 199 (a slight increase of 7 deputies). Despite the 4T’s strong electoral performance, the right-wing coalition (PAN-PRI-PRD) stopped a bunch of PRI deputies from giving AMLO a qualified majority in parliament, that had allowed the passing of constitutional reforms. And the novelty was the 23 deputies of Movimiento Ciudadano

Insofar as governorships is concerned, in 4 years (2018-22) the AMLO-led coalition took away 21 governorships out of 32 from the PRI, PAN and PRD and in 2022, by adding the PVEM, the figure was 22, leaving the PAN with 5, PRI with 3, and MC with 2. Furthermore, in June 2022, at elections in 6 governorships MORENA won 4 (the other 2 were obtained by the PRI-PAN-PRD alliance), increasing its total to 25. 

In June 2023 there were elections for the State of Mexico which went to MORENA, increasing its total to 26 in an election won by Delfina Gomez, the first time in 94 years the PRI lost control over the State of Mexico, and the first time ever a woman was elected to this position.

Claudia Sheinbaum, frontrunner candidate and former Governor of Mexico City.
The challenges faced by the opposition

The electoral strength of AMLO’s MORENA movement comes from the thorough discredit of the ‘PRIAN’ old regime with the erosion of the PRI’s unassailable primacy since the signing of the NAFTA in 1994 by PRI’s president Carlos Salinas and the disgust with neoliberal policies applied until 2018.

But it also comes from the positive effects of the Fourth Transformation (4T)1 which has substantially contributed to move Mexico away from neoliberalism and towards linking up with progressive governments and currents in Latin America to, collectively, continue dismantling neoliberalism. A central feature of the 4T is AMLO’s efforts to reconnect it with the best ethics, principles and traditions bequeathed by the 1910-1920 Mexican Revolution; a very progressive endeavour indeed. First and foremost, the defense of national sovereignty in the face of imperialist domination, particularly from the US: a principle with broad national appeal. Also, a commitment to serve all the people, “but first the poor,” expanded rights for indigenous and marginalized peoples, honesty and modesty by those who govern.

AMLO’s government in six years has introduced socially progressive structural reforms that have benefitted millions of hitherto socially and economically excluded people, which include:

The population living in poverty decreased from 52.2 million in 2016 to 46.8 million in 2022; in relative terms, it went from 43.2% of the total population in 2016 to 36.3% of the total population in 2022 (BBVA Report). This period coincided with the pandemic thus, making the achievement even more impressive.

As Edwin Ackerman has shown, social progress has benefited the working class directly since “Under AMLO the process for forming new unions has been considerably simplified, statutory vacation days have doubled, and legislation is currently on the docket for a forty-hour work week (down from 48 hours) and cash transfers now reach 65% more people that under previous governments (Edwin Ackerman, The AMLO Project, Sidecar New Left Review, 5 June 2023). The minimum wage has been increased by nearly 300% (from 88 to 249 pesos) and has granted universal old-age pension paid every 2 months, formal rights of domestic workers have been recognised for the first time; share of profits increased over 100% in 2022.

And there is a raft of other progressive measures and initiatives (Sembrando Vida, Maya Train, republican austerity, fight against corruption, and so forth).

The right-wing opposition’s selection of Xóchitl Gálvez, being an indigenous woman, was influenced by MORENA’s gender politics; the opposition knew they could not APPEAR elitist in their selection (though she has been tarred by accusations of corruption, traffic of influences and failing to declare profits). Moreover, Gálvez had to promise to continue many of AMLO’s progressive reforms given their popularity.

Furthermore, the ability of Mexico’s media, and the world mainstream media in general, to spread fake news about AMLO’s actions, policies and decisions has been substantially hampered by his daily mañaneras, which are a source of instant verification of any media lies.

It is against this formidable set of achievements that Mexico’s opposition will fight the coming general election in June 2024 and which represents an uphill battle.

The evolving tactics of the opposition

The very first reaction of a troubled opposition was to seek to delegitimize the 4T government through a media demonization campaign to prepare the ground for a ‘soft coup’ aimed at ousting AMLO’s government (Ben Norton, Meet the far-right oligarchs working to topple AMLO, June 2020). They did this pretty much with the CIA playbook: an intense media demonization campaign of fake news and rumours, plus protest marches; extreme opposition groups such as Somos Más and Students for Liberty were created and financed by US outfits.

By 2021, the line of the opposition (PAN-PRI-PRD) sought to depict three years of AMLO’s government as a disastrous failure, full of lies and unfulfilled promises in which the country’s economy, security and corruption worsened. These assertions are, of course, totally false and contradicted by the voices of the people (Tens of thousands celebrate AMLO’s fifth year as president).

In 2021, AMLO denounced that the funding of ‘civil organizations’ by USAID, NED and such like that seek to undermine his government and put Mexico’s sovereignty at risk; he charged them with orchestrating a coup against his government. Between 2018 and 2021, USAID and NED provided US$591.5 million to Mexican NGOs, among the most important ones are Mexican Institute of Human Rights and Democracy, the Institute for Security and Democracy, the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness and the National Social Communication Center, Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), México Evalúa — a public policy think tank — the news website Animal Político (MDN, US has given $591mn to Mexican NGOs in the past three years, 1 June 2023).

Mexico City residents protest the United States-based Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conference in the city in 2023.

The US criticism, echoed by the opposition, focuses on AMLO’s efforts to reduce government spending, ramping up fossil fuel use, and expanding the role of the armed forces.

The latter has become one of the opposition’s central charges: “militarization”, a deliberate misrepresentation since, given the high levels of corruption of the Federal Police and sections of the armed forces, AMLO created the National Guard2, to combat organized crime3. The use of military for civilian projects is practiced around the world, for example, the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Another important tenet of the opposition is their contention of AMLO’s little regard for democratic norms, with their propaganda dwelling on false accusations of weaponizing the judiciary to persecute leaders of the opposition, attacking against journalists and columnists thus, jeopardizing freedom of the press, and lashing out at NGOS. He is supposed to be seeking to silence critics, reducing the budget of “autonomous agencies’ thus, preventing them from doing their job as watchdogs, breaking electoral law, and turning a blind eye on organized crime’s political penetration. All of which, they argue, has put Mexico’s democracy in danger (Mexico’s democracy is crumbling under AMLO, Bloomberg, 10 March 2022; re-published by the Council on Foreign Relations). The Economist Intelligence Unit’s contribution was a piece in February 2022 that downgraded Mexico from “flawed democracy’ to “hybrid regime”.

All this leads opposition outfits to deceitfully argue that AMLO is taking Mexico on an authoritarian path because his administration is characterized by centralization of power, efforts to consolidate a supermajority that will allow him to overwhelm constitutional checks and balances, and an increased reliance on the military (Is Mexico falling into the authoritarian trap?, Journal of Democracy, October 2021).

By 2023 the anti-AMLO rhetoric had substantially intensified characterizing AMLO as a ‘Tyrant of the Year’ for 2022 by the London-based Index on Censorship. The justification stems from the false charges of violence against journalists and environmental defenders, by the charge of cozying up to Trump, lashing out at women and, for being a ‘human rights disaster.’ It should be pointed out that “According to an investigation carried out by Matt Kennard and Mark Curtis at Declassified UK, the Index received £603,257 in donations between 2016 and 2021 from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).” (Kurt Hackbarth, A Right-Wing Think Tank Just Named AMLO ‘Tyrant of the Year”. It’s Absurd, Jacobin 31 January 2023). The highly influential magazine Foreign Affairs, published the article Mexico’s Dying Democracy. Amlo and the Troll of Authoritarian Populism, Denise Dresser, Nov/Dec 2022). These “analyses” give you a flavour of the direction and political content on which the opposition will fight the 2024 election.

All the above has been the narrative constructed on the basis of ‘trial and error’ since 2018, mainly by US think tanks and the US ‘regime change’ machinery (USAID, NED, DEA, CIA, etc.). The opposition has basically adopted this narrative in toto and was the platform of their protest march on 18 February 2024 against AMLO’s 36 constitutional reforms, which Infobae, echoing the exaggerated claims of the opposition, reported that 700,000 people participated, when in reality it was closer to 100,000 (Tens of thousands rail against Mexico’s president and ruling party in ‘march for democracy’, The Hindu, 19 February 2024). El País, 18 February 2024, published a special feature about the march with huge full-colour pictures; despite its progressive façade, El País has always been an important propaganda resource for the right-wing and extreme right-wing in Latin America.

The issues raised by the march leaders identified the political platform on which they’ll fight the coming elections Prominent among them are “free and fair elections” and the false claim the 4T represents a threat to Mexico’s democracy.

That is, if they do not win, as other right-wing currents in Latin America do, they may not recognize the results, hoping such view would be supported by the US and its European accomplices. Furthermore, they also falsely contend that the continuation and deepening of the 4T (Claudia Sheinbaum is ahead of Gálvez by double digits in the polls) would represent a serious threat to Mexico’s democracy which, according to them, is already seriously undermined.

At the opposition march last February, their demands focused on things such as that the president does not intervene in elections; that governors should not divert resources for official campaigns; that the public and private media point out that social programs are constitutional; that INE, TEPJF and local authorities do their work independently; shield elections from organized crime money; that the media cover candidates evenly; that the public media should not be the government propaganda apparatuses; that the disqualification of the SCJN and other autonomous bodies should be stopped; commitment of citizens to a free and informed vote; that the importance of the votes for deputies and senators, as well as for local authorities, be disseminated; and so forth. Most of these offenses are already sanctioned by existing laws, rules and norms, yet were widely practiced by the PRIAN regimes and AMLO’s reform proposals substantially reinforce electoral probity, which the right-wing vigorously opposes.


External forces do not appear convinced ‘the defense of democracy’ issue will be sufficient to prevent Sheinbaum from winning, therefore, in and of itself will be unable to stop the 4T continuing and deepening. However, these forces (particularly in the US) seem to have settled to seek to build the largest, strongly unified, mass opposition around the PAN-PRI-PRD to wage war of attrition against an almost inevitable 6-year presidency of Claudia Sheinbaum.

A central component of this war of attrition will be intensifying the demonization of Mexico’s government whose jewel in the crown, thus far, seems to be the false charges that AMLO took millions of dollars from drug cartels after taking office (A. Feuer and N. Kitroeff, U.S. Examined Allegations of Cartel Ties to Allies of Mexico’s President, NYT, 22 Feb 2024). To “prove” these connections a DEA investigation (Operation Padrino) led US prosecutors to accuse Mexican General Cienfuegos with helping a violent criminal group (H-2 cartel) conduct its drug trafficking operations; Cienfuegos was arrested at the Los Angeles airport causing furore in Mexico (especially among the armed forces) but he was eventually released and all charges dropped with the general going back to Mexico. AMLO was indignant and said that all was an utter fabrication (see AMLO’s comments). Actually, a furious AMLO referred to the NYT as ‘inmundo pasquín’.

Our tasks

The Mexico Solidarity Project and Mexico Solidarity Forum will gather key relevant information about the points in the opposition platform to equip ourselves to deconstruct and demolish them. It is easy to demonstrate the fallacy of the charges of ‘failure’ and that all Mexico’s ills (violence, corruption, poverty, and so forth) got worse under AMLO. However, the ‘attacks on democracy’ and the government’s alleged ‘connivance’ with Mexico’s drug cartels will be central to the opposition strategy for the coming elections. We have to particularly watch potential US-led efforts to support the opposition in not recognising the results of the June 2024 general election.

As an unavoidable task we must undertake is to produce brief and factually-based responses to these fallacious accusations against AMLO and the 4T, monitoring the relevant mainstream media and publish rebuttals when necessary. 

We call upon progressive people to oppose all forms of US interference in the internal affairs of Mexico and join us to mount a strong defense of the remarkable transformation going on in Mexico, a vital component to build a better world. 

  1. The 4T is AMLO’s characterization of his set of radical reforms; in Mexico’s history, the first three transformations were the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821), the Reform War (1858-1861) and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917). ↩︎
  2. The National Guard had 64 percent approval when launched ( 
  3. AMLO: “Even if I’m criticized for militarizing the country, I’m going forward because it’s necessary”, La Politica Online, 14 May 2020 ( ↩︎