BFF-60 Mexico president-elect meets predecessor to ready his ‘transformation’

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BFF-60

MEXICO-VOTE,WRAP

Mexico president-elect meets predecessor to ready his ‘transformation’

MEXICO CITY, July 3, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Mexican president-elect Andres
Manuel Lopez Obrador will meet his outgoing predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto,
on Tuesday to begin preparing the transition he promises will bring “profound
change” to the country.

The anti-establishment leftist known as “AMLO” won a sweeping victory in
Mexico’s elections Sunday, claiming 52.96 percent of the vote, according to a
near-complete count — more than 30 points ahead of his nearest rival in the
four-way race.

Lopez Obrador, 64, successfully tapped voters’ anger over a seemingly
never-ending series of corruption scandals and horrific violence that
resulted in a record 25,000 murders last year.

He will be the country’s first leftist president in recent history when he
takes office on December 1.

He met Tuesday morning with advisers in his campaign headquarters, and was
then due to meet Pena Nieto in the National Palace.

Pena Nieto said Monday he had called Lopez Obrador to congratulate him and
offer his support to provide “all the necessary elements during the
transition period.”

Lopez Obrador’s victory is the first time in Mexico’s modern democracy that
a candidate has won more than half the vote.

It amounted to a resounding rejection of the two parties that have governed
the country since 1929, the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
and conservative National Action Party (PAN) — especially the former.

The PRI ruled Mexico as a single-party state for 71 years, was ousted at
the ballot box in 2000, then convinced voters to give it a second chance in
2012.

Many Mexicans would live to regret it: after six years of scandals, human
rights violations, lackluster economic growth and horrific violence, Pena
Nieto is poised to leave office as the most unpopular president in recent
history.

– Strong mandate –

Lopez Obrador’s coalition — led by the party he launched in 2014, Morena –
– also won a majority in the lower house of Congress, and was within striking
distance of doing the same in the Senate, according to exit polls.

That gives him a strong mandate to effect the “transformation” he has
promised.

But many Mexicans are also nervous over what Lopez Obrador’s brand of
change will look like.

Critics call him a “tropical Messiah” who will install Venezuela-style
policies that could wreck Latin America’s second-largest economy.

“We are not looking to construct a dictatorship, either open or hidden,”
Lopez Obrador said in his victory speech, promising to safeguard freedoms,
respect the private sector and work to reconcile a divided nation.

– Soothing markets, wooing Trump –

But there are lingering market jitters over a politician who clashed openly
with the business sector during the campaign.

Lopez Obrador’s economic team spent the day Monday in conference calls with
investors, seeking to reassure the markets.

The team is led by the respected economist Carlos Urzua, Lopez Obrador’s
pick for finance minister, who told AFP in a recent interview he would pursue
fiscally responsible policies, pledging to safeguard the central bank’s
autonomy, balance the budget and respect all state obligations with the
private sector.

Lopez Obrador has also been keen to start off on the right foot in another
potentially tricky relationship: with US President Donald Trump.

Trump called Lopez Obrador to congratulate him Monday, and the president-
elect said he had proposed a plan to reduce US-bound migration and improve
security in Mexico.

“We had a great talk,” said Trump, whose anti-immigration, anti-trade
policies have deeply strained Mexico’s ties with its giant northern neighbor
and key trading partner.

BSS/AFP/MRI/2230 hrs