A Lopez Obrador victory next year seems almost inevitable, given the way the move to bar him from the ballot energized his supporters. As one observer remarked, “With enemies like these, who needs friends?”
The bad news is likely to be the actual operations of a Lopez Obrador presidency. I’ve seen no evidence that either Lopez Obrador personally or the PRD as an institution is capable of governing Mexico. Moreover, unless the PRD performs a political miracle, Lopez Obrador, like Vicente Fox before him, will face a Congress dominated by an opposition coalition.
No doubt President Lopez Obrador will remember that, when the chips were down, Bush Administration support for democracy turned out to be cheap talk. That won’t make U.S.-Mexican relations any easier, and it won’t give Lopez Obrador any special reason to avoid treading on U.S. corns. Still, no one has described him as a complete fool or a madman, and any intelligent and sane Mexican president will remember the identify of his country’s biggest trading partner and remittance source, and behave appropriately. That won’t, of course, prevent a bunch of anti-U.S. speeches and U.N. votes.
Overall, though, today has to count as a happy day. Bad policies are easier to reverse than the habit of cheating at election time.