Luis Rubio

“To be or not to be, that is the question” spoke Hamlet in his famous and introspective monologue. Presidential campaigns tend to lapse into contradictions and incompatibilities -to be or not to be- because they have of necessity to reconcile interests, groups and projects that are not compatible or coherent among themselves; they tend to be real -and, therefore inevitable- factors of power with which the candidates must contend. In the strikingly extremist Mexico of today, these incoherencies are at unusually substantial levels.

Repeating the dogmas of the outgoing government sells well to the man who decides everything, but hinders the proposal of an integral development project because this would inexorably involve a shift with respect to many of the prevailing dogmas. Proposing novel ideas alienates the base of believers who have benefitted from the recent policies, even when the latter are clearly not sustainable. The dilemma for the campaign of the party in office is plain: how to win an election and simultaneously elaborate an alternative project because the one the campaign promotes has already given its all. The contradictions will do nothing other than worsen until it is possible for the candidate to emerge from the confines that the circumstances have imposed upon her.

The dilemma for the opposition candidature is no less complex.  The combination of political parties historically dedicated to competing among themselves (and, in many respects, to detesting each other) and the minimal quality evident in their party leaderships imply a nearly total absence of professionals in electoral matters whose experience could boost the probability of achieving success in the electoral arena. One good speech certainly does not a summer make, but it can become the cornerstone that changes the fate of the candidacy, were there a strategy to make it possible. In contrast with the Morena-party candidacy, existing as it does under the constant harassment of the owner of the national narrative (i.e. AMLO), the limitations confronting the opposition candidacy are half structural and half self-imposed.

Raw material will not be lacking for either of the candidates. The government from which the Morena candidacy arises built and financed an electoral base that, while insufficient for winning on its own, constitutes an enviable political platform. As a development project or, even, a governmental one, the ALMO project will end up owing a debt to the citizenry, given that the economy he hands over in 2024 will be, at best, on a par with that of 2018, but with several more millions of Mexicans, and with an incompetent and corrupt government that the citizenry finds qualitatively reprehensible. However, as an electoral project, AMLO’s has been formidable because his sole true objective has been his group’s continuity in power. In this way, the great asset of the Morena candidate is also her great curse.

The coming months will display the full range of paraphernalia of the virtues, vices and contradictions characterizing Mexico’s political process and the country in general. Along the way, opportunities will be created for each candidate to exhibit her capacity to manage and operate under adverse conditions. What neither candidate can ignore, the real change that the country has undergone since the 1996 Electoral Reform, is the centrality of the President in the electoral process. While to all appearances this benefits the Morena candidate, with it she inherits the costs of his administration and, as long as she does not divest herself of her predecessor, his dogmas and his vices.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, the great novel penned by García Márquez, represents the archetype of the magic realism of the Latin-American region   and its consequent mechanisms of power that produce incongruent, if not disastrous, results, which are always incompatible with the encompassing reality. This is a space in which the personages inhabit parallel worlds that are seen but not touched. Something similar can be said of a country that is what it is, but that would prefer to be different without changing anything.

It is within that context that the candidates must uncover every nook and cranny that permits them to divulge who they are without estrangement from those sponsoring them.

Thus concludes Hamlet his soliloquy: Who would fardels* bear,/ To grunt and sweat under a weary life,/ But that the dread of something after death,/ The undiscover’d country from whose bourn/ No traveller returns…? The candidates will surely understand this…


a quick-translation of this article can be found at