Not 'For the Good of All'

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 28, 2006 | Go to article overview

Not 'For the Good of All'


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The possibility becomes probability that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the truculent leftist, will defeat Felipe Calderon, the free-market conservative, in Mexico's presidential election, and this is not particularly good news for the United States. Public-opinion polls, which are not particularly reliable, show the two candidates neck-and-neck heading into the July 2 election, erasing a brief Calderon surge.

"For the good of all, for the poor first" goes Mr. Lopez Obrador's party slogan. To understand what this means in practical terms merely requires a look at Mr. Lopez Obrador's tenure as mayor of Mexico City. His populist initiatives included free medical services, public transportation and a $70 monthly handout to the elderly. He also launched expansive road construction that failed to improve traffic conditions but did manage to increase Mexico City's debt. Debt was not the only thing on the rise during Mr. Lopez Obrador's years as mayor unemployment and crime also increased.

Comparisons have frequently been drawn rightly, in many respects between Mr. Lopez Obrador and the other resurgent authoritarian leftists in Latin America like Bolivian President Evo Morales, who marked his first 100 days in office with widespread nationalization of Bolivia's energy industry. But Mr. Lopez Obrador, unlike Mr. Morales, is not likely to place expropriating foreign assets or nationalizing industry high on his agenda. This point does little, however, to allay other serious concerns for Mexico's economic outlook under a Lopez Obrador presidency. …

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