Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The imaginary, legitimate government

The non-stop campaign is obviously not unique to the USA.

Caroline Welch who teaches in the upper school at The Albany Academies (in Albany, NY) pointed me to this article.

Grassroots politics is fascinating. Is it effective? Why would Obrador choose this form of campaigning in Mexico? What sources of legitimacy does the actual government claim? What sources of legitimacy does Obrador's government claim?

Mexico Has a President Who Runs Things and One Who Doesn't
Like a lot of countries, Mexico has a federal government... But Mexico has another body, the so-called "Legitimate Government," which claims to be running the republic, too. It meets here in the capital every 15 days in a former garage...

Some countries like the U.K. have shadow governments, complete with shadow cabinet members made up of the opposition. But these groups usually don't claim to be the actual government, as is the case with Mr. López Obrador and company...

It all began in 2006 when the former Mexico City mayor almost became Mexico's real president, losing the election by a hair... Then, as a culminating gesture of defiance, he held a mock inauguration in the country's main square...

With this, many assumed they had seen the last of Mr. López Obrador -- at least until the next election in 2012.

But while the leftist has faded from international headlines, he never really went away in Mexico. He went on to found a parallel executive branch of government that proposes new laws, issues statements, holds elections, officiates during Mexican Independence Day, and even circulates its own form of identification card for Mexicans...

Nowadays, Mr. López Obrador tours the country giving presidential speeches where he is introduced as the real McCoy. After three years of this, he will soon have visited all of Mexico's 2,438 municipalities. That would make him, he says, the first politician -- indeed, maybe even the first man -- ever to have done that...

"We are in a land run by oligarchs," Mr. López Obrador began one recent morning in Nacajuca, a tiny Mayan village deep in Mexico's southeastern jungles. As the temperature rose, so did his voice as he railed against high prices for tamales, corporate tax loopholes and political corruption...

Perhaps no event captures the Legitimate Government's audacious style better than Sept. 15, the night of an age-old Mexican Independence Day tradition known as "el grito," or "the cry (of independence)." A half million Mexicans flood the main square as the president waves a flag and yells out revolutionary slogans, re-enacting the call to arms that brought Mexicans to rebel against Spain 199 years ago.

This year, as President Calderón performed his "grito," Mr. López Obrador could be found with his cabinet a few miles away in another plaza, giving what was called the "alternative" grito...


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