(Our guest blogger, Keith Hernandez, is an intern at the Center for American Progress)
Mexico will elect a new President on Sunday, and polls suggest the winner will be former Mayor of Mexico City Andr©s Manuel L³pez Obrador (a.k.a. “AMLO”) or former Energy Secretary Felipe Calder³n.
Judging from coverage of the race in the American press, U.S. journalists have already decided who should win. The New York Times calls the race between Calder³n and AMLO a choice between “promise and fear.” The Wall Street Journal mentions AMLO in the same vein as the incompetent president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. Editorial pieces in The New Republic, Foreign Affairs and The New York Times portray AMLO a threat to Mexican democracy.
After reading these stories, readers could conclude that Mexico’s election is about to be stolen by a homicidal strong man. The opposite is true.
AMLO’s candidacy gives new vibrancy to the debate in Mexico as he brings the poor, a sector of the population often forgotten, into the democratic process. In a country where democratic institutions are weak, voting participation is on the decline, civil society has effectively been dissolved, and continued narco-corruption and crime serve to undermine the legitimacy of government, it is imperative that Mexico work to include all parts of the polity to consolidate and strengthen its democracy.
The future of Mexico will be determined tommorow, and if AMLO has done anything, he has brought to light a disaffected public whose concerns, whichever man wins, will need to be addressed.
– Keith Hernandez
UPDATE: Seven questions about the Mexican elections answered by Foreign Policy magazine.