After AMLO, Mexico faces the specter of chaos. Neither workers nor opponents have candidates with true popular support
After AMLO, Mexico could face an even more complicated future while the disorder deepens because neither the ruling party nor the opposition has managed to consolidate a political project or leadership with enough weight to give the country a long-term course, which you risk being adrift.
López Obrador is a benchmark, for locals and strangers
Andrés Manuel López Obrador came to the presidency almost 3 years ago, crowning a successful political career with his protest, in which he knew how to transform himself from a local politician in the state of Tabasco to a national party leader and then become the figure most relevant Mexican politics of the last half-century.
AMLO is idolized by his followers with irrational certainty and his opponents repudiate him with an equivalent passion. In just a couple of decades, he managed to consolidate the most electorally successful political movement in Mexico’s democratic history, controlling not only the presidency, but also the Chamber of Senators, the Chamber of Deputies, and most of the local congresses.
And all this he achieved with Morena, a party designed specifically for itself as a vehicle for a diverse alliance, which includes everything from old PRIs and traditional leftists, to liberals, rightists, and various interested parties. Getting that stew of competing interests to function as a political party is already attracting attention; to have him also win elections and do it so effectively is simply extraordinary.
To finish soon, if we want to find another Latin American figure with an ideological rank and political success similar to that of Andrés Manuel, perhaps we will have to think of Juan Domingo Perón, the populist who knew how to include in his movement from the extreme left to the extreme right and defined ( more for bad than good) to modern Argentina.
Obrador could have a similar impact in Mexico and project its influence through the decades, or it could end as an abandoned political pothole after 2024 when the presidency of the Republic is renewed. That fate depends on Mexico’s inevitable political readjustment after his presidential term.
After AMLO, nothing is clear
After AMLO the possibility of chaos opens, because both the ruling party and the opposition are fragile, discredited, and captured by increasingly isolated, mediocre party bureaucracies and incapable of mobilizing the hope and action of citizens.
The ruling party
The pro-government alliance, headed by Morena, will reach the 2024 elections, controlling the vast majority of state governorships and driven by a consolidating political structure. However, none of his natural candidates for the presidency (Ricardo Monreal, Claudia Sheinbaum and Marcelo Ebrard) is even the shadow of López Obrador.
After AMLO, Morena will have to elect a politician without the charisma of the people.
Monreal is a skilled political negotiator, capable of forging top alliances with both the ruling party and the opposition, but he is not a character appreciated by the majority, not even within Morena. Claudia Sheinbaum heads the government of Mexico City, but she does it as a mere informal representative of López Obrador; It has no political weight of its own beyond the brilliance that AMLO transmits to it from the National Palace. Marcelo Ebrard, Secretary of Foreign Relations, does not have charisma and the serious accusations of corruption against him are a drag on any political project in which he ventures.
A similar scenario occurs with the vast majority of official candidates for state and local offices: They are unknown or infamous, who win the elections specifically and directly because they are the candidates who have the support of López Obrador. After AMLO, forced to rely on their own forces, many of them will collapse.
The opposition parties still do not understand the political message of their overwhelming defeat in the 2018 presidential elections. They know that their structures and leadership are irreversibly weakened in most of the country, but they are not doing anything concrete or effective to solve that problem.
And just one button is enough to show you: at the beginning of November, an audio was released where Marko Cortés, national leader of the PAN, affirms that his party is ruled out in advance in 5 of the 6 elections for governor to be held in 2022. Worse, a little bit, In the subsequent controversy, a PAN governor announced that Marko Cortés also already considered the 2024 presidential elections lost.
Yes, the leader of the main opposition party is losing 5 of 6 state elections before the campaigns have even started or the candidates have been made official, and would even consider the next presidential election lost. And the worst of the case is that he is right: We are already less than 2 years away from the start of the 2024 electoral process (it starts in September 2023) and the opposition still does not consolidate a single leadership that is capable of challenging López Obrador now. Brunette.
Yes, anti-workerism has nurtured numerous references, but they have essentially been preaching to the choir for 3 years. Despite the almost absolute disaster that AMLO’s government has been, the opposition has been unable to win wills outside the red circle and upper-middle-class urban areas. The opponents basically focused on winning Twitter, but elections are not won by tweeting.
No PAN or PRI member manages to ignite public hope, to the extent that opposition circles increasingly sound the option of supporting the ruling party Ricardo Monreal, whom they perceive as a lesser evil. That is the size of the crisis. Even the citizens who acknowledge that López Obrador has turned out badly for them are not willing to vote for the opposition; after all, they like AMLO, and they like the opponents fat.
After AMLO, the chaos?
The combination of political discredit and the growing violence of organized crime, added to the increase in poverty due to the policies of López Obrador and the consequences of the pandemic, is creating the conditions so that after AMLO, in Mexico the doors of the chaos.
At the very least, we would be facing a scenario similar to the Peruvian one. In Peru, the traditional parties were completely overwhelmed by new popular movements, both from the left and the right, which stormed the presidential elections and fractured citizen support into smaller pieces.
In Mexico, this should have happened for years, but it has not happened because the electoral legislation is designed to prevent the emergence of political movements independent of the previous party. When those levees are brought down, either through legislation itself or through political pressure in the streets, partisan bureaucracies will be left unprotected and exposed to the consequences of their routine of incompetence.
What comes next could be a Pedro Castillo, a Chávez, perhaps something worse.
The great risk is that with the collapse of the system, the dialogue mechanisms and institutional dikes that keep ambitions relatively at bay will also be destroyed, which would turn Mexican politics into a free-for-all, a parody of Fortnite, marked due to uncertainty, backwardness, poverty and eventually generalized political violence.
Yes, Mexico is in crisis today, but it can still get much worse, and the clock keeps ticking as the Obrador administration reaches the middle of its term. That is why it is urgent that both government officials and opponents manage to see beyond the short term and begin to ask themselves this key question: what is next after AMLO?
The future of Mexico will depend on the answer.