The debate on amendments to the electoral legislation and electoral authority in Mexico, sponsored by president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador and strongly criticized by the opposition has led to an unprecedented dispute on the streets of Mexico City.
On Sunday tens of thousands marched in Mexico City with president Lopez Obrador leading and telling the crowd that Mexico is no longer run by oligarchy, now there is a democratic system whose priority is the poor Lopez Obrador told to the crowd.
The rally was a response to a large march organized by critics to the electoral amendments initiative, two weeks ago.
On Sunday onlookers shook hands and took selfies with the president as he passed through Mexico City. Many waved flags of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party.
Lopez Obrador's march also marked four years in office for the leader. Jesus Ramirez, the presidential spokesman, said at least 1.2 million people joined the rally. Experts believe that this was the first such march led by a Mexican president in at least four decades.
Lopez Obrador's march comes ahead of the next general elections slated for 2024. Mexican presidents are limited to a single six-year term, meaning he cannot run again.
Nevertheless, the president hopes to see his party hold onto power after he steps aside. Three of the his allies and potential successors — Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez —accompanied him at the rally.
Clara Jusidman, founder of INCIDE Social, an NGO specialized in democracy, development and human rights, said that what is important is less the number of participants but rather why they participated.''
And according to her, many Mexicans feel compelled to support the president as they receive money from the government.
In effect, the opposition insisted that the participants had been forced to join the march, claims Morena organizers dismissed. Most supporters at the march had been bused in from different provinces across Mexico. Their transport was organized by the Morena party, unions and social groups.
Obrador's approval ratings are around 60%. He owes much of his popularity to his social welfare programs aimed at helping the elderly and disadvantaged Mexicans.
Referring to the rally led by the opposition, Fernando Dworak, a political analyst at the Mexican Autonomous Institute of Technology said that It was a serious mistake by the opposition to believe that the president can be beaten on the streets.”
So far, his Morena party won four of six races for the position of governor in last year's midterm elections, giving the ruling party control of 22 of Mexico's 32 states.
This gives the party an important advantage heading into the 2024 presidential elections.