MEXICO CITY,. Mexico’s first leftist-majority Congress was sworn in yesterday, swept into office on the coattails of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in a July election that punished the country’s political establishment.
Cheering and chanting Lopez Obrador’s name, lawmakers from the coalition led by his recently founded party, Morena, took the oath of office in the lower house — where they will now be the dominant force.
The ceremony in the Senate was more solemn, but the balance of power there is the same: Lopez Obrador will now be the first president in Mexico’s modern democracy to have an absolute majority in both houses of Congress.
“The people have voted, they have said what they want, and that is the road we must now walk,” said Tatiana Clouthier, a close adviser to Lopez Obrador who was elected to the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies.
Clouthier said the majority’s first legislative priority was to amend the law to allow Lopez Obrador to change the structure of the president’s cabinet, including by creating a new public security ministry to deal with horrific levels of violent crime.
“Then we’ll start with other major changes,” she said.
The new legislative session opens Saturday.
Lopez Obrador, however, will not take office until December 1.
Mexican voters delivered a stinging rebuke to the country’s establishment parties in the July 1 elections, outraged by a seemingly endless string of corruption scandals and record crime driven by the country’s brutally violent drug cartels.
Lopez Obrador won with 53 percent of the vote, more than 30 points clear of his nearest rival.
The former Mexico City mayor whisked the presidency away from the two parties that have governed Mexico for the past 89 years — the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and conservative National Action Party (PAN).
Morena, which Lopez Obrador founded just four years ago, and its coalition allies will have 307 of the 500 seats in the lower house and 69 of the 128 seats in the Senate.
It is the first absolute majority since 1994, when Mexico was a one-party state governed by the PRI.
Lopez Obrador also appears to be within reach of negotiating a two-thirds majority, which would enable him to change the constitution.