Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Street Theater Politics

Executive transitions might be a valuable topic for a comparative study. Russia and Nigeria are scheduled to have new presidents soon. The UK is watching the final acts of Tony Blair's government. And Mexico has a crisis of unknown proportions.

James C. McKinley, Jr., wrote in the New York Times, "It remained to be seen if Monday’s political theater was a graceful exit for a candidate who could never acknowledge defeat, or truly the start of a unified left-wing movement to challenge the oligarchy of politicians and business executives who have controlled the country for a century." He added, "Forming a shadow government is astute politically, some analysts said, because it could keep Mr. López Obrador in the public eye during Mr. Calderón’s six-year term..."

Hector Tobar, in the San Jose Mercury News (and most observers), were less sanguine about Obrador's prospects.

Leftist declares himself president -- continued protests could destabiize Mexico's government

"Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the leftist candidate who claims to have been cheated out of victory in July's presidential election, took an 'oath of office' Monday as the 'legitimate president' of Mexico in an elaborate ritual his many detractors ridiculed as a farce.

"The ceremony in this capital city came less than two weeks before the inauguration of the man who won the election, conservative Felipe Calderón. As many as 100,000 people attended Monday's event, in which López Obrador, the 52-year-old former mayor of Mexico City, also swore in a six-man, six-woman shadow cabinet...

"'He is not doing this to make sure that Calderon governs in the name of the poor; he's trying to make sure that Calderon can't govern at all,'' said Denise Dresser, a political analyst, of López Obrador's decision to create a parallel government. 'He is leading many Mexicans to believe that change in this country cannot occur through peaceful means.'...

"The newspaper Reforma published a poll that found two in three Mexicans believe López Obrador has 'little or no' credibility. But one in five respondents felt he was right to proclaim himself president...

"Much of the Mexican media, and many political observers, lambasted the inauguration as a 'caricature' and the desperate act of an egomaniac..."

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