Lessons from Mexico’s election: Anti-establishment politics is our new normal

Lessons from Mexico's election: Anti-establishment politics is our new normal
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On July 1st, Mexico elected Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known as AMLO) as president. On one hand, it’s a triumph of democracy with disillusioned Mexicans expressing their discontent at the two ruling parties and voting them out. On the other hand, it’s another example of the world entering a new political normal: one where the traditional order is being seriously challenged by voters frustrated with the status quo.

AMLO’s victory exemplifies this new political environment and its anti-establishment flavor. He describes himself as a champion of the “little people” who have been wronged by a corrupt, rigged system. In this new political milieu, irreverence and orneriness have a premium. It communicates to people that their champion is not beholden to elites. AMLO is the leftist mirror image of Donald Trump, he promises to run over any opposition, throw out any deal he doesn’t like, and bully those who object to his administration.

Now with AMLO’s election, two-thirds of North America will be run by leaders riding this anti-establishment wave. Combined with the successes of strong men winning control of governments in Europe, this wave seems poised to continue, perhaps in the upcoming Brazilian election.

We have been monitoring public sentiment around the world and have watched the public turn against their leadership. In our work, we note three distinct trends that all observers should note:

  1. People are fed up.

A 2016 Ipsos survey fielded in 22 countries found that on average 70 percent of people say that the economy is “rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful” and feel “existing political parties do not care about people like me.” Global public opinion also is profoundly distrustful of existing institutions ranging from politics to commercial activity. Widely, people believe that political organizations are in the pockets of the elites and are working contrary to the needs of average citizen.

In Mexico, this trend has been doubly powerful. That 2016 survey found 82 percent of people in Mexico feel the economy is rigged and 78 percent that existing parties do not care. AMLO…

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