To Find Renewed Relevance, Mexican Left Must Lose López Obrador

To Find Renewed Relevance, Mexican Left Must Lose López Obrador

TORREÓN, Mexico -- The Mexican political class doesn't agree on much, but no one denies that the country's political left today is a hopeless mess. Every day brings a fresh embarrassment, a new descent into the bizarre. The present state of affairs is all the more conspicuous given the heights to which the left rose less than two short years ago. Ironically, the decline can be traced to the very man who almost lifted the left into the presidency.

As 2006 dawned, everything was gangbusters for the darling of the Mexican left, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The ex-mayor of Mexico City enjoyed a double-digit lead in polls for the July presidential election, and seemed poised to join the growing ranks of leftists leading Latin American nations. His party, the Democratic Party of the Revolution (PRD), was likewise optimistic about the future. It had long maintained a stranglehold on Mexico City, and a ride on López Obrador's coattails in the upcoming contests promised unprecedented nationwide success.

July 2, 2006, turned out to be a bittersweet day. López Obrador somehow let victory slip away (losing by less than a percentage point to Felipe Calderón), but the PRD scored wins around the country and became the second largest party in Congress. Ignoring the potential of the latter and focusing instead on the injustice of the former, López Obrador called his followers into the streets, claiming fraud (though, tellingly, without providing any substantial proof). And there, precisely, is where the left first went wrong, with López Obrador leading the misguided charge.

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