Andrés Manuel López Obrador narrowly lost Mexico’s 2006 presidential election to Felipe Calderón, a result he attributed to fraud. In what seemed at the time like a show of defiance, held a mock inauguration. But Obrador was serious: To this day, he calls himself the “Legitimate President” leading the “Legitimate Government”—complete with unpaid cabinet members who meet every two weeks—and has spent the last three years touring the country ceaselessly to rally the people and criticize Mexico’s other president.
The Legitimate Government goes through all the motions: It proposes laws, holds elections, and even issues ID cards that it says are carried by about 2.8 million Mexicans. But despite his utter seriousness, the Legitimate Government is “a strategy to raise his political profile," one journalist tells the Wall Street Journal—though his popularity has dropped by half since the 2006 election.