Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump Starts a Border War – Populism From Left Sweeping Into Mexico

  • “America First” will affect many countries and not always to the benefit of America’s foreign policy. 
  • Not all populist movements come from the right. Mexico is moving to the left.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has a 12 percent approval rating, with a painful two more years to serve. François Hollande, the socialist president of France, has a 12 percent approval, and has wisely decided not to stand for another election. The main populist opposition in France approaches from the right.

The populist opposition to Peña Nieto comes from the left in the form of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City who has challenged the two establishment parties for more than a decade. López Obrador almost won the presidency in 2006 against the center right PAN party candidate Felipe Calderón. Peña Nieto’s PRI, which was the old revolutionary ruling party, morphed in recent years into a more centrist organization and beat Calderón in 2012.

Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the proposed policies toward Mexico are the major contributors to Peña Nieto’s collapse. The border wall, hostile references to Mexican immigrants, renegotiation of NAFTA and demanding manufacturers wishing to sell in America, build in America have put the Mexican economy into a crisis and the political and business establishment on the defensive. Peña Nieto’s meeting with Trump last fall helped Trump, but was a disaster for Peña Nieto.

Peña Nieto was a reformer and it has cost him support among the status quo interest groups. Education reform opposed by teachers’ union and more competition in the monopolistic oil industry have led to social conflict. The oil and gas effort sparked riots as prices increased. Peña Nieto and the PRI also suffer from an image of corruption in a country that has little trust in major institutions. Mr. Trump may deal with a very hostile socialist-oriented Mexican government in 2018.

See Wall Street Journal: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto loses support, poll finds

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