Mexico’s reluctantly liberal president

THE LEFT has rarely been stronger in Mexico. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the new president, won last year’s election by a record margin and has sky-high approval ratings. For the first time, leftist lawmakers have a majority in both houses of congress. Parties scorned by Mr López Obrador as “neoliberal”, which misgoverned Mexico before he took power, are demoralised.

But there are snags. Not all leftists in congress belong to his Movement for National Regeneration (Morena). Not all members of Morena and its allies are on the left. And those who are do not agree on what that means. Mr López Obrador’s priority is to strengthen the state as a weapon against what he calls “economic injustice”. Some of his allies are more interested in expanding social liberties or protecting the environment. The outcome of this tussle will help determine the legacy of Mr López Obrador’s government and the sort of country that Mexico will become. 

A row over abortion, flawlessly timed to spoil International Women’s Day on March 8th, illustrates the tension. A pro-life Morena senator was apoplectic to find a green scarf, a pro-choice symbol imported from Argentina, placed on her chair. She used the occasion to denounce abortion as “murder”, which drew rebukes from other Morena lawmakers. Mr López Obrador, who is often called AMLO, tried...

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