A Scenario

Luis Rubio

One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking from a restless sleep, he discovered that while he was in bed he had been transformed into a monstrous insect. Without doubt a transcendental occurrence for Samsa, the character of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, but perhaps too strange and farfetched for its nature to be understood and, even, whether it was a real change.  The same as Samsa, the Mexican citizenry has awoken to an attempted fait accompli: as if everything had already been decided upon without the need for any explanation of what had happened. The Presidential Election of 2024 is still far away, and lacking is a plethora of twists and turns to get there.

The Morena-party candidate advances like a train: with clarity of course and a sense of purpose. The Frente Amplio alliance candidate tries to build a platform that confers presence and recognition to her within an electorate that does not yet know her. To complete the panorama, the entire governmental apparatus, from the President to his last operator, is dedicated to building up their candidacy while destroying that of the opposition. No one should be surprised that the numbers revealed in recent polls reflect those factors.

Contradictions on the horizon are ubiquitous and are found in all parties. Morena is a complex entity, dissimilar and characterized by tribes and groups that inhabit distinct bunkers and that dispute posts and potential opportunities for the upcoming government. The ability of Claudia Sheinbaum to manage those contradictions is obvious, but in a party in which the sole factor of cohesion is the president, the capacity to contend with the tribal strife is always limited.

The contradictions within Frente Amplio are different, but no more complex that those of the other side. First of all, the parties that make up that alliance entertain interests and incentives that are not necessarily aligned with winning the presidency: given the shortsightedness of the party leaderships, with obtaining sufficient Congressional seats they satisfy their objectives. On the other hand, the success of the candidacy of Xóchitl Gálvez depends on attaining a balance among the interests of the parties that support her and her nature as an independent candidate. That balance is difficult to come by, but once the candidate achieves it, her candidacy inexorably will begin to take wing.

While Gálvez must differentiate herself from the parties that sustain her and simultaneously keep them within her control, Sheinbaum must take care of her relationship with her boss, while building an independent presence. With such a dominant and jealous personage in terms of his (supposed) legacy, the challenge is not a lesser one. The point is that each of the candidates confronts contradictions and complex challenges that are not easy to administer.

Under these circumstances, it is feasible to erect scenarios concerning as to how this contest could evolve from here until next June. The starting point is that surveys are a snapshot of the moment, but the moment that counts, voting day, remains far off and no one can anticipate all the factors, internal and external, that could exert an effect on the outcome. What is possible is to speculate about the environment that could characterize Mexico next June, once the election is over, because that would permit us to visualize the elements that the citizenry would have had in their sights when they decide how they will vote.

My point of departure is a very simple one: the great factotum of present Mexican politics is doubtlessly the President. No one in the political arena possesses a presence like his, a control of the narrative, a history such as that which characterizes him and the legitimacy he has garnered along the way. In a word, the personage is unrepeatable. That is, however much he influences the process, violates the electoral laws and attempts to control his candidate, the personage has an expiration date and no one could inherit his attributes.

Whosoever wins the race next June, the next Mexican presidency will be very different from the current one.  Lacking in the integral control of the scene and in the capacity of disqualifying, discrediting and threatening the whole of society in systematic fashion, the victor will confront the relentless need to procure the reconciliation of the Mexican society. The context, if she wants to advance, will obligate the winner to do distinct things from those that would today appear obvious, a circumstance much simpler for Xóchtil, due to her freshness and to her being the victim of the unbridled presidential attacks, than for Claudia, who inevitably must assume that the table is ready set for her.

The vote in June will determine not only who governs the country, but also the composition of the Congress, a factor that could constitute the great change in Mexican politics if a power equilibrium is achieved that would bestow viability and certainty on the country after these years of abuse and, paradoxically, paralysis.

President López Obrador exposed many of the maladies and myths of Mexican politics, but he never even tried to resolve them. For him, it was enough to be powerful. The question is what conclusion the citizenry will derive from his administration and, therefore, for whom it will opt to succeed him.

No doubt there are to come months of ups and downs and endless altercations, some violent. But, to date, nothing is decided.