Mr. López Obrador’s victory puts a leftist leader at the helm of Latin America’s second-largest economy for the first time in decades, a prospect that has filled millions of Mexicans with hope — and the nation’s elites with trepidation.
The core promises of Mr. López Obrador’s campaign — to end corruption, reduce violence and address Mexico’s endemic poverty — were immensely popular with voters, but they come with questions he and his new government may struggle to answer like, how will it be paid for and how will Mr. López Obrador, a firebrand with a tendency to dismiss his critics in the media and elsewhere, govern?
In the end, the nation’s desire for change outweighed any of the misgivings the candidate inspired.
In his third bid for the presidency, Mr. López Obrador, 64, won in what authorities called the largest election in Mexican history, with some 3,400 federal, state and local races contested in all.
He won by capturing more than half the vote, according to early returns, more than any candidate since the nation began its transition to democracy nearly 20 years ago. In his acceptance speech Sunday night in Mexico City, Mr. López Obrador sought to unite an electorate polarized over his election, and promised to look out for all citizens — with the poor being first among them.
He said he would fund his programs with the money the nation saves by eliminating corruption, a figure he places at tens of billions of dollars a year, a windfall some experts doubt will materialize.
Even as the electoral rage propelling Mr. López Obrador’s rise is largely the result of domestic issues, there will be pressure for the new president to take a less conciliatory line with his American counterpart. Mexico’s current government, led by President Enrique Peña Nieto, has suffered a string of humiliations at the hands of Mr. Trump with relative silence.
Mr. López Obrador will inherit an economy that has seen only modest growth over the last few decades, and one of his biggest challenges will be to convince foreign investors that Mexico will remain open for business.
“The biggest problem I see are the expectations he has built,” said Carlos Illades, a professor of social sciences at the Autonomous Metropolitan University and a historian of Mexico’s left. “The problem is going to be what he is not able to do. There are people who are expecting a lot.”
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