The “cargada,” or tumultuous “charge,” on Monday, Nov. 27 — when now-former Treasury Secretary José Antonio Meade Kuribreña announced he was registering himself to compete for the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) presidential candidacy — was enormous.
That’s fine, but to old political observers like yours truly, it’s all déjà vu. It’s been like this at the PRI since time inmemorable. Even on the two occasions when the party posted losers as candidates, in 2000 and 2006, it was like this.
Reality has it that the PRI has been paving the road for some time to admit nonmembers as candidates as, for the most part, hopefuls. That happened earlier this year, when it became obvious that the current PRI “owner,” President Enrique Peña Nieto, opened up the possibility and the practice was “voted” on by a majority. It was then that Meade’s name began popping up.
But it was just last week that the rumbling that Meade was “the good one” became very audible. First Foreign Relations Secretary and “Trump’s boy in Mexico” (as some critics call him) Luis Videgaray publicly praised Meade’s career as a bureaucrat, pointing out that one previous president ever managed to hold four different cabinet posts.
Then last Friday came a bomb. Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong was notified by the president that Meade would leave the Treasury post on Monday, and that he would register to run in the farcical PRI “primary.” Osorio Chong had an option to register too as a hopeful, but Peña Nieto let him know that “la cargada” represented by the still-powerful union central Mexican Workers Confederation (CTM) was in favor of Meade.
That same Friday, Osorio Chong held a press conference in which he announced “I’m not running for president.” By the way, in the PRI polls, he was favored over Meade.
Surely, as of now, and particularly because Osorio Chong did not want to question the authority of Peña Nieto, Meade is most likely to run for the candidacy uncontested and will get a unanimous vote next February when the PRI holds its convention to “elect” not just the presidential candidate, but candidates for governor in 12 states, as well as senators, deputies and municipal mayors.
A good question is why would the PRI choose Meade – a nonmilitant who is not even a party member – as its potential candidate? The answer is simple: Meade is clean and, unlike the great majority of PRI elected officials, he doesn’t have a corruption record. In short, Peña Nieto had no other choice.
But now that the stone’s been cast, Meade does not face a pretty political scenario. First, he does not have any political experience and has never before run for office. His career has been one of a technocrat and, as a Doctor in Economics (Yale graduate), he has shown himself to be a good administrator and survived two consecutive presidents, namely, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto. But does that make him a people’s politician? Definitely not.
Even if Meade overcomes his lack of political experience shortcoming, he will still have to jump over a higher hurdle, which is the PRI’s low popularity and its infamous ill repute of being a corrupt political party.
Plus the fact that President Peña Nieto’s administration boasts the mud-smearing lack of prestige of having nowadays four PRI governors in jail – both in Mexico and abroad – for stealing public funds and having clear ties with criminal organizations. How can Meade overcome that?
Moreover, the election to be held on July 1 will not be an easy one. National Regeneration Movement (Morena) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has been on the electoral trail stumping since he ran for president the first time in 2006 and, at least at present, leads all the polls.
But for now, at least. all rumors as to who will be the PRI candidate are over, and this gives all other contending political parties the certainty of knowing who the bad guy is now.
Also, as of Friday, Dec. 1, Peña Nieto may be at ease because his lame duck year starts and most definitely that will be a relief, not just for him, but also for the 62 percent of the electorate that did not vote for him.