Mexican leftist Lopez Obrador wins presidency

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador decisively won Mexico’s presidency on Sunday, exit polls showed, setting the stage for the most left-wing government in decades at a time of tense relations with the Trump administration. Pledging to eradicate corruption and subdue drug cartels with a less confrontational approach, the 64-year-old former Mexico City mayor will carry high expectations into office even as his efforts to reduce inequality are watched closely by nervous investors. A Lopez Obrador government could usher in greater scrutiny of foreign investment and a less “The people wanted a change,” said Ricardo Anaya, a former head of the center-right National Action Party (PAN) who was one of Lopez Obrador’s challengers. Exit polls forecast Anaya was likely to finish second, ahead of ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Jose Antonio Meade. The United States, which has been at odds with Mexico and Canada over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has launched a probe into whether to slap tariffs on imported autos. Results are expected within months. How Lopez Obrador handles relations with Trump, who has also sparred with Mexico over the U.S. president’s call for a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, will help define the new administration which will take office on Dec. 1. “We have witnessed today a very profound reshaping of the country’s political map,” Goldman Sachs economist Alberto Ramos said. “The balance of power at the federal and local levels has definitely shifted to the left, with unclear implications for the near-term policy direction.”. The outgoing government changed the constitution to attract more capital to the industry, but Lopez Obrador, who hails from an impoverished part of Mexico where oil exploitation began, has vowed to review the policy. Born in Tabasco state, Lopez Obrador first came to global attention as Mexico City mayor, a post he left to run for president in 2006. Narrowly losing, he cried fraud and launched street protests many thought would end his political career. However, with stubborn self-belief, he began a long journey back to prominence, tirelessly visiting far-flung villages and towns neglected by mainstream politicians for decades. His victory is a stinging rebuke to the PRI, which has governed Mexico for 77 of the past 89 years, and its conservative rival, the PAN. Hammering home a message that he alone could end a “mafia of power” and root out corruption that marred outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government, Lopez Obrador’s star has risen amid the scandals and Mexico’s descent into dizzying levels of violence, which at times draws comparisons with war zones.