The future of Mexico’s leaders beyond AMLO’s presidency: four key players identified

11 July 2018 5 min. read

With Andrés Manuel López Obrador winning the Mexican presidential elections earlier this week, the stage is set for a political upheaval in the Latin powerhouse. The double digit win puts the leftist, former Mayor of Mexico City at the center of the country’s economy on the 1st of December, 2018. The historic upset has shaken up the nation’s establishment and will pave the way for a new generation of Mexican leaders.

LLorente & Cuenca have taken the liberty in their new paper “Emerging Leaders in Latin America, Portugal and Spain: A Glimpse at Future Leadership” to identify a handful of the nation’s brightest shining political stars. The paper was released by the consulting firm’s thought leadership platform Developing Ideas and not only identifies potential candidates but also provides an analysis of the future challenges that the country faces.

Since the Mexican Revolution and subsequent civil wars which ended over 100 years ago, Mexico’s democracy has been ruled by just two parties: the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), in power for the majority of the century since the 1917 constitution, with the exception of a few brief stints by the National Action Party (PAN) from 2002-2012. 

The recent election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador or AMLO and his new political party Morena has been a significant blow to the establishment of the Mexican elite by the people. It challenges the perceived status quo and comes at a time when the United States is ramping up on its anti-Mexican rhetoric. 

“When Donald Trump came to power in the United States, Mexico went on a state of alert,” states the report. “The anti-immigration speech and the threat to break off the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) affected both the economy and politics in a country whose identity is highly impacted by its bilateral relations with its northern neighbor.”

The increase in social inequality, corruption and violence rung out to the tune of AMLO’s supporters who strengthened his campaign. These issues will remain throughout his presidency and into the future, as leaders will need to navigate a shifting political establishment as well as the priorities of their predecessors. 

The consulting firm continues by stating that the future leaders will be the ones who are able to connect on both sides, right and left, to rebuild trust in the system itself. “Mexican society mistrusts its political class and is suspicious of any kind of concession in such a polarized environment”. 

Ángel Ávila Romero, Sylvana Beltrones, Luisa Alcalde and Pedro Kumamoto

The future leaders identified by LLorente & Cuenca must be able to do just that; span the political spectrum and tackle the inherent issues faced by the country, notably the high poverty rate –currently at roughly 50% of the population – as well as narco violence, drug trafficking, and political corruption, whilst creating a pro-business environment. 

The personal characteristics of the type of leadership which these candidates share have been highlighted by the firm as; bravery, horizontal and cooperative, pragmatic, and centered on internal and societal consensus. These qualities are the common bind which holds together Ángel Ávila Romero, Sylvana Beltrones, Luisa Alcalde and Pedro Kumamoto. 

Composite sketch of the future leaders of Mexico

The challenges which each of these leaders face are defined and their ability to withstand the voting public’s political indifference is important to the success of each leader. To do so, one must, according to the consulting firm, be able to reestablish trust in institutions, reduce inequality and poverty and create a sustainable socioeconomic future for the nation.

Ángel Ávila Romero is the general secretary for the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). He sways left of the center in political views yet he and his party joined in coalition with the center right PAN, showing his ability to compromise to focus on the greater issues. He promotes the need to form a coalition government for the first time in Mexican history as well as plurality, respect and inclusive modernization. As there has never been a presidential candidate for the PRD, AMLO’s election has opened a door and created a potential pathway for Romero.

Sylvana Beltrones is the candidate for the senate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). She is a prominent political figure’s daughter and has had a wealth of political experience for her age. Beltrones is one of the high profile leaders striving towards gender equality in Mexico – an area which needs all the attention it can get – and she represents the new wave of political establishment for the PRI. Her success will depend on her ability to reconnect with voters and reestablish faith in the Mexican political system.

Luisa Alcalde is a member of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and an admirer of AMLO. She is riding a wave of excitement surrounding the president elect’s new party and anti-establishment sentiment. Alcalde has the makings of a potential leader due to a firm stance on violence in the country and her views of youth-related social issues, in a country where the median age is 27. She is young herself and depending on how AMLO’s presidency plays out has a viable shot at inserting herself into a leadership position in the future. 

Pedro Kumamoto is an independent candidate for the Senate of the Republic and a wildcard in the political game. He has a steadied background in Mexican civil society and is a leader in the resurgence of such groups in the recent past. Kumamoto works in direct conflict with the current state of the political parties on both the left and the right, whilst using democratic means to further his political influence. He stands for the better distribution of wealth, ending privileges of the political elite and improvement of education, healthcare and workers’ rights.

Related: Mexico experiences one of the worst periods of violence in its modern history.