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Who Links Here

Saturday, July 8, 2006
AMLO Burlesconi?
By Chris Lawrence (guestblogger) @ 8:01 pm

KC Johnson at HNN links what he characterizes as a “peculiar” op-ed column by NYU history professor Greg Grandin that concludes that centuries-old mistrust of the United States in Latin America would be ameliorated by the administration joining AMLO’s call for a recount of the Mexican election results and supporting renegotiation of NAFTA to allow Mexico to go back to protectionist agricultural policies (whether or not AMLO is eventually installed in office).

While I wouldn’t necessarily call Grandin’s assessment “peculiar,” his argument might be a bit more plausible if he could articulate either how renegotiating NAFTA or helping AMLO get into office serves the interests of the United States; indeed, U.S. meddling in Mexico’s electoral processes by calling for a recount would seem to reinforce the perception of yanqui meddling in domestic affairs, and it is unclear that the changes in NAFTA Grandin supports are favored by parties other than the PRD. Even if such demand existed, in this political climate with little substantive support for free trade agreements in the White House, getting any changes to NAFTA through the U.S. Congress would be problematic at best.

Johnson also has another critique of Grandin’s piece:

One wonders if, a few months back, the United States similarly should have avoided recognizing Romano Prodi after his razor-thin victory over Silvio Berlusconi. The reactions (and political temperaments) of Berlusconi and López Obrador seem quite alike. Both have strong authoritarian streaks; both seem to have preferred making unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud to accepting legitimate, if heartbreakingly narrow, defeats. But somehow I doubt that Grandin was in Berlusconi’s camp a few months back.

The analogy isn’t perfect-Italy being a parliamentary democracy, while Mexico being presidential-and AMLO’s alleged authoritarianism to this point has been latent rather than manifest (unlike Berlusconi’s), but allegations of fraud are the first refuge of political scoundrels-whether or not they are ever borne out by evidence.

Filed under: Latin America, Elections | |Send TrackBack

4 Comments »

  1. allegations of fraud are the first refuge of political scoundrels

    One would think suggestions of fraud are the first refuge of any politician who loses an extremely tight race - scoundrel or not.

    Comment by Bryan S. (guestblogger) — Saturday, July 8, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  2. Well, a few might concede defeat gracefully.

    Of course, I can’t think of any offhand :-)

    Comment by Chris Lawrence (guestblogger) — Saturday, July 8, 2006 @ 8:23 pm

  3. One of the most important aspects of NAFTA, from a Mexican perspective, is something that all three major parties broadly agree on: Lengthening the “phase out” period on Mexican tariffs on US corn. Fox tried to get the Bush administration to agree to changes and got nowhere. This is a critical issue for Mexico (and for the US: more corn imported into Mexico means more (ex-)farmers imported into the US). Opening up Mexico’s markets to more US corn is clearly in the interests of Archer Daniels Midland and is good for Iowa. But it is not particularly good for the broader interests of the US. Or Mexico, as all three Mexican parties are quite aware.

    And then there is immigration, which is not in NAFTA, though the Salinas administration tried to include it in the original, if I recall correctly.

    NAFTA has certainly contributed to the surge in migration. Those who try to deny that have their heads in the proverbial sand.

    Comment by Matthew Shugart (Guestblogger) — Sunday, July 9, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

  4. Oh, by the way, actually the analogy of the most recent Mexican and Italian elections is quite good. Chris is right, of course, that one is parliamentary and the other presidential. But both were single nationwide plurality races.

    In Mexico, the presidency is elected by first-past-the-post. In the 2006 Italian election, the rules for choosing the parliament (that in turn determines who the PM is) were not (despite numerous news reports) proportional. Rather, the pre-election bloc of parties that won the plurality of votes was guaranteed a majority of seats.

    So, the two contests had the same dynamic: nationwide plurality takes the executive. And, practically the same outcome-except in the ideological leaning of the winner.

    Comment by Matthew Shugart (Guestblogger) — Sunday, July 9, 2006 @ 12:54 pm

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