In a show of public support for his mandate, Mexico’s president marched across the city on Sunday, two weeks after tens of thousands of Mexicans demonstrated against planned election reforms they claim would weaken democracy.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s supporters flooded the centre of the city, screaming, “It’s an honour to be with Obrador,” in a preview of the 2024 presidential race. Some had travelled hundreds of kilometres by bus to be there.
The march was met with criticism from Mexico’s political opposition and some sections of civil society, who saw it as a show of power by a leader they see as an emerging authoritarian who utilises state resources, including social programmes, to sustain his popularity.
Pea Nieto has disputed the allegations, but Sunday’s demonstration showed the extent to which Mr. López Obrador has won the support of many Mexicans.
Some attendees said that they came to demonstrate their support for a president who had helped them financially via social programmes, while others admitted that they knew nothing about Mr. López Obrador’s precise policy aims, including as the controversial election reforms he seeks to have passed.
More power over Mexico’s election processes would go to the president under this plan, but despite discussions having begun in Congress earlier this month, Mr. López Obrador does not have the support he needs to see it through.
Members of the opposition are concerned that the president would attempt to impose the reforms in an unconstitutional manner before the year is through. Recently, Mr. López Obrador has adopted some of his most divisive initiatives via presidential decrees.
The president held the march on Sunday to demonstrate public support for his efforts to reform the election system and boost his influence inside the National Electoral Institute.
It happened two weeks after tens of thousands of people marched to protect the institution from the upcoming reforms. It was the largest demonstration by the opposition under this administration.
Mr. López Obrador addressed the gathering on Sunday afternoon, focusing mostly on the social initiatives his administration has implemented while largely avoiding the escalating violence and deteriorating security situation that has plagued the nation since he took office in 2018. About halfway through his second term. The president is consistently regarded as one of the most popular heads of state in the world, with approval ratings consistently over 60%.
Because of this, more resources may be poured into the welfare system, despite criticism from some private economists who argue current welfare programmes are less well managed than in the past and provide aid regardless of eligibility requirements.
On Sunday, Mr. Lopez Obrador addressed crowds of supporters who had marched the 2.5 miles from the Angel of Independence monument to the Zócalo, the centre of government authority.
Some of Mr. López Obrador’s detractors have claimed that the Mexican government pushed major labour unions to send members to Sunday’s march, and that cities controlled by the governing party paid for buses to bring inhabitants to the capital to take part in the demonstration.
Mr. González agreed that the president’s popularity remained strong, but he noted the governing party’s loss of seats in Congress in the 2018 elections.
It was a real attendance, the president said on Sunday.
Hundreds of workers from Mexico’s major unions for the electrical industry and the building trades showed their support for the government by waving union and party flags. Protesters disembarked from buses with placards proclaiming their home cities and marched toward the Zócalo as mariachi bands played.
In the previous decade, Mr. López Obrador has developed a political party that has mostly outmaneuverd its opponents in Mexico, as the duelling marches of recent weeks have shown. However, the governing party has significant challenges, like as a faltering economy, before the presidential elections in 2024.
As the Constitution prevents Mr. López Obrador from seeking reelection, he is said to be grooming a party loyalist to run for president in his stead.
Magdalena Molina Garca, a 62-year-old housewife from Mexico City, said she came to Sunday’s march to show her support for a president who had expanded her family’s eligibility for social programmes, including a flagship one geared at younger Mexicans.
Ms. Molina, meanwhile, has said that she does not agree with the president’s “hugs not guns” approach to national security. Mr. López Obrador used the term to describe his plan to divert young people’s attention and resources away from the country’s formidable drug gangs and toward more productive pursuits.
“I would never embrace a criminal,” she firmly said. “I am 100 % an Obradorista,” she said.