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Mexico: López Obrador’s First Year

INTRODUCTION
The first of December marks the first anniversary of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government, the first leftist administration in Mexico since the period of hegemonic rule by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) ended in 2000...
POLITICAL ISSUES
López Obrador’s first actions following his electoral victory involved matters of symbolic importance in terms of combatting corruption and curbing abuses by public officials–one of the campaign issues that most resonated with the electorate...
López Obrador’s inauguration speech was a diatribe against neoliberalism, which was portrayed as the source of the country’s problems, particularly corruption, which the government has sought to address by adopting an austerity drive to eliminate perceived excesses in the public sector...
The Federal Public Servants’ Remunerations Law led to thousands of appeals by bureaucrats, which in turn produced the first significant conflict of the new administration, pitting López Obrador and Morena against the supreme court...
Another major decision taken by López Obrador before he was sworn into office was the future of the Mexico City’s New International Airport (NAIM), which was under construction in Texcoco (Mexico state)...
As part of his promise to boost democratic rule in the country, another of López Obrador’s main campaign promises was that he would submit his continuation in office to a popular confirmation vote at the mid-point of his six-year term of office...
ECONOMIC ISSUES
The initial appointment of qualified, moderate individuals to key cabinet positions – such as former finance minister Carlos Urzua, and Banxico governors Gabriel Esquivel and Jonathan Heath – in addition to promises of maintaining fiscal discipline and continuing to support free trade were reassuring for both domestic and international markets...
López Obrador’s adoption of a more conciliatory tone after his electoral victory reassured businesses that his administration would maintain a moderate course...
The administration’s first budget was presented by Urzua on 16 December 2018...
López Obrador was strongly opposed to the liberalisation of the energy sector that was carried out by his predecessor, the PRI’s President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), arguing that it undermined the country’s sovereignty...
López Obrador’s main infrastructure projects are the Santa Lucia Airport and the Tren Maya...
SOCIAL ISSUES
López Obrador has portrayed himself as the champion of the poor...
López Obrador has repeatedly stated that his priority is to improve the population’s wellbeing...
López Obrador campaigned to revoke the education reform of 2012, which he claimed was contrary to the interests and wellbeing of teachers...
Support for this sector of the population, which López Obrador claims has been neglected for too long, comprises key policies of his administration...
Alongside security, health is the other area where López Obrador acknowledged his administration has not made significant progress in delivering the improvements promised during his campaign: universal coverage, improvement of infrastructure and services, more staff, and free medicines...
Although some of the programmes in this area are among the government’s priorities, as of August 2019, they had significantly underspent the resources they had been allocated for 2019...
SECURITY ISSUES
One of López Obrador’s main promises was to pacify the country with his ‘hugs not guns’ approach...
The current government revived the Ministry of Public Security (which his predecessor had scrapped) and got rid of the former intelligence service (CISEN) and the body responsible for public officials’ security – including his own – as part of his administration’s restructure and anti-corruption austerity drive...
Although previously he made claims that security was improving, in his state of the nation address López Obrador admitted that this was not the case and acknowledged that it remains one of his key challenges...
Another one of López Obrador’s main campaign promises in this area was to improve Mexico’s human rights record...
FOREIGN POLICY
Foreign relations are not a priority for López Obrador, who repeatedly stated during the campaign that “the best foreign policy is domestic policy”...
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on 7 January disclosed that the current administration’s foreign policy would return to the traditional Estrada Doctrine, the dominant foreign policy stance during the PRI rule that ended in 2000...
Mexico’s foreign relations are dominated by the bilateral relationship with the US, which will continue to be crucial to Mexico’s interests, given the countries’ links regarding trade, immigration and security...
CONCLUSION
After more than 10 months in office, there is no indication that López Obrador will alter his government plans or style...

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