Luis Rubio

The great success in politico-electoral matters of the last few decades was creating conditions of certainty regarding the electoral competition for those that would govern Mexico. The two electoral authorities (the National Electoral Institute [INE] and the Electoral Tribunal) came into being to avoid the persistence of the fraudulent practices in electoral matters that became exacerbated in the eighties. The consolidation of those two entities was no small achievement and thanks to it the country has experienced alternation of political parties at all levels of government. Today, in the light of the obvious violations in the letter as well as in the spirit of the electoral legislation on the part of the President, the question is whether the process will withstand the onslaughts from all sides from here to June 2, and, especially, after that.

The key to the electoral arrangement to which the three relevant political parties subscribed at that moment (PAN, PRI and PRD) was that there would be established conditions of equity for the electoral contest, zero interference on the part of the authorities of the moment and certainty with respect to the process, but not concerning the result, the essence of the first rung of the ladder toward democracy: clean elections, a level playing field and acceptance of the result.

The way the President acts today contrives an attempt against all three of the elements:  first, an effort to meddle in the INE, something unheard of since the Reform of 1996. In second place, the President’s activism and proselytism biases the electoral contest, introducing an evident element of inequity. Finally, the message that only the triumph of the Morena party would be an acceptable and legitimate outcome attempts against the essence of democratic behavior.

The matter does not lie only in the desire of AMLO and his cohort to cling to power; in fact, it is a reminder of the election of 2006 and, in reality, goes back to the emblematic reform of 1996.  At that time, the PRD, from which derives the greater part of Morena, voted for the constitutional reform but refused to vote in favor of the implementing legislation. Although the PRD leadership at the time reached an internal consensus with respect to the general democratic principle, there was a significant contingent of members of the party (essentially those who eventually migrated to Morena, led by AMLO) who entertained a certain resistance regarding democracy. It is now clear that from then on there existed conditions that steered these individuals toward the rejection of the result of the 2006 election. For that contingent, the country or the citizenry owed an outstanding historical debt to the PRD, which thus led to the assumption that that was a sufficient reason for their (supposed) victory to be recognized. There is no reason to think that that same logic has varied; that is, that for the President and his supporters, the win in 2024 is a right and not a possibility or a wish.

While the Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD) that survived with that name accepts the rules of democratic competition, those who moved to Morena only accept those rules when these favor them. What this tells us is that there is a strong current of thought within that Left that continues operating under the revolutionary principle of power being achieved at any cost and, once there, it is preserved without looking back and at any cost. The actions that the President has undertaken throughout his presidential term and that he now tries to convert into law, much of that at the constitutional level, are nothing other than the attempt to consolidate their control of political power in permanent fashion.

The group governing at present spent eighteen years in search of power, twelve of those dedicated to exploiting their vision of having been the victims of fraud in 2006 and 2012 (and they further assumed they would also be denied a victory in 2018). That belief led them to justify their rejection of any rule or law: for them, beginning with the President, the rules of the game (constitution, laws, and regulations) do not apply to them, and these rules can always be shaped to facilitate acting in any way thar serves their purposes.

Although history would have led one to assume that a Mexican government, of any stripe, would advocate the promotion of economic development (each with its penchants and politico-ideological preferences), the sitting government has distinguished itself by its conscious decision to abandon any pretention of economic promotion because its sole objective is and has been power. One can speculate that the latter is a prerogative of the government in turn, but this administration has reaped benefits from the reforms of the past decades that led to the development of an extraordinary export sector whose foreign currency income, in conjunction with remittances from Mexicans living abroad, have conferred exceptional stability on the country and on the exchange rate. What is not clear is what AMLO will bequeath to his successor.

The country has borne abuses, polarization, insecurity and indebtedness, all implying enormous risks for the President’s successor, whoever she may be. Continuing to interfere in the electoral process augers growing political risks that, combined with the entire series of conflicts and accumulated deficits (economy, polarization, the United States, etc.), would put into question not only Mexico’s economic certainty but also the one thing that the Mexico of the last one-hundred years has not known: instability and political violence.

It remains unclear when the moment will come in which the consequences of what has been done (and not done) become evident, but there is no doubt that these consequences will impact the next government and, of course, all Mexicans. Great legacy…