México
Beware of the middle class
Por Andrés Wainstein
The elections set off alarm bells for T4 in urban centers. Discomfort with the middle class emerges in AMLO's speech.

This time there was no tsunami. The result of the midterm election set up a scenario of greater balance in San Lázaro, while granting more governors to the 4Q. This is an election that requires a very close reading of voter behavior. Nobody won it all. Nobody has signed a blank check.

The surprise results in the Mexico City election occupied much of the post-election debate. And it's understandable because of the López Obrador's historic project. The "Chilango" is -- or was -- one of the strongest supporters of the president, almost on a par with the "tabasqueños."

But the concerns that were installed in the National Palace seem a little deeper than a setback in a single city. It is important to review the performance that Morena had in different urban centers of the country to understand the discomfort that already emerges in the president's speech against the middle classes, and that somehow includes the argument of media manipulation.

AMLO did well in the Elections, but the opposition managed to limit his power

Does the president really believe that the media are responsible for an elusive election for the ruling party in many of the country's urban centers? AMLO's relationship with the press was always strained, and perhaps that is why his reading of the defeats in several Mexico City mayoralties was heard with relative ease: "The voters were victims of manipulation."

Until very recently, before 2018, an idea persisted in Morena that the rural population living in the most remote and disconnected villages, without internet or social networks, were the perfect victims for fraud from the mafia of power. AMLO even called the operation that distributed food and money in exchange for votes: "Beans with weevils." Now the issue lies with the urban population.

The President is a faithful believer in the Hypodermic Needle Theory, which was developed in the 20s and 30s, in the period from World War I to World War II. His object of study was wartime political propaganda. That is where the permanent reference to Joseph Goebbels and his phrase "A lie that is repeated a thousand times becomes the truth" comes from.

Until very recently, before 2018, an idea persisted in Morena that the rural population living in the most remote and disconnected villages, without internet or social networks, were the perfect victims for fraud from the mafia of power. AMLO even called the operation "Beans with weevils." Now the issue lies with the urban population.

AMLO now argues that the citizens who live in cities currently sit in their cars, turn on the radio and hear a permanent cascade of negative messages, all against him, that are shaping them to vote against his project. Any expert in Communication Sciences would be able to explain that in the last decades, this theory fell into disuse - the receiver is not passive in his reaction to the message - to the point that AMLO himself accepted that social networks had broken the media siege. Or not?

To the west of Mexico City, in Edomex, Morena also experienced a significant shift. Naucalpan, Cuautitlán, Atizapán, Tlalnepantla, all these municipalities returned to the hands of the opposition. The same happened in Metepec and Toluca, where Morena controlled since 2018. Perhaps the explanation can be found in local mismanagement. Or can some of the presidential narratives no longer reach those electors?

Observing Monterrey or Guadalajara could skew the analysis, but it is not a minor fact that Morena has had a very marginal performance in the fight for those mayoralties. The point is that this scenario is repeated in many other locations. In Puebla, Claudia Rivera was defeated by the PAN, and her re-election was thus cut short. In Cuernavaca, Morena also failed to achieve another term in office. Many local governments were not certified.

Some will say that Morena won 11 governorships, and indeed that is an indisputable victory for the president. But, again, such an interesting election allows us to observe its nuances and revealing data, which should not be overlooked.

Durazo won in Sonora, but Hermosillo lost. Célida López did not get re-elected. Layda Sansores will finally be governor of Campeche, but Renato Sales had a performance to be forgotten at the capital. Morelia, Mérida, Chihuahua... There are plenty of examples.

Of course, some important urban victories should also be mentioned: Ecatepec, Neza, Texcoco, Tijuana... "This is a financial income problem," they argue at Morena. The truth is that the 4Q phenomenon in the larger urban centers opened an intense debate in the National Palace. Is the city's middle class already lost? Is now the time to focus on the "humble populations?"

That is a dilemma that other presidents in the region have already felt. Governments that seek to lift as many citizens as possible out of poverty - which would end up increasing the middle class - are now becoming enemies of this sector, which slowly begins to have new demands, proposals and requirements.

Is the city's middle class already lost? That is a dilemma of governments that seek to lift as many citizens as possible out of poverty - which would end up increasing the middle class - are now becoming enemies of this sector, which slowly begins to have new demands, proposals and requirements.

"We, the Peronists had a hard learning experience. There were some practices of our movement during the 40s and 50s, in that difficult phase that Argentina went through, where perhaps those who did not think like the government -- of Juan Domingo Perón -- were stigmatized or verbally abused. And this caused some sectors of the middle class, which had emerged in the heat of Peronism, to be culturally trapped by a machine that finally despised them and became, in the end, just one isolated piece."

Cristina Kirchner's self-criticism is perhaps revealing for AMLO, and for a militancy that put doctors working in the private sector in the same bag as "fifis" and left them without priority for vaccines. Or the thousands of middle-class state employees - in the name of the fight against corruption - that were laid off, had their salaries cut or were left without a bonus.

AMLO's best electoral version was achieved in 2018 with a moderate speech, with an obvious widening of his electoral base, which included the middle classes across the country. It was a boat large enough for everyone to fit in it. Falling into the temptation of reducing the narrative to one that is only friendly to the strict militants may be effective in moving the government through, but it will pose, sooner rather than later, obstacles to its succession. The first signs may have appeared last Sunday. 

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