By ALEJANDRO ENVILA FISHER
Today in Mexico, there are three main contenders for the 2024 presidential candidacy of current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party: Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, Interior (SeGob) Secretary Adán Augusto López Hernández, and Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón.
Of these three, the most viable is Ebrard because he is best positioned to win that election.
It is abundantly evident that López Obrador will have the final say in determining who the Morena presidential candidate will be, but if he wants his party to continue to rule, he would be well advised to choose Ebrard.
Within Morena, Ebrard may be the candidate least akin to López Obrador, but he is also the one who has developed the most weighty political alliances, having worked closely with AMLO since he was mayor of Mexico City back in 1999, having resigned his candidacy for the Democratic Center Party, to join the campaign of the then-Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). In politics, agreements, pacts and debts also matter, although they are not always honored.
It is important to understand that the Morena that will be competing in the 2024 elections is not the same party that ran in 2018, winning an overwhelming majority of 30 million votes in favor of its presidential candidate. That was a movement that was congealed by votes against the then-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its broadly discredited president, Enrique Peña Nieto. That election was determined in favor of Morena by those who felt politically dispossessed by and the angry with Peña Nieto.
But four years after that overwhelming victory, Morena is more a reinvention of the PRI than the anti-system movement that won in 2024 with a punishment vote. Today, many of Morena’s 2018 voters are now equally disenchanted with that party and are again seeking a new alternative. And Sheinbaum, a graduate of the radical university left who has transformed herself into a López Obrador yes-woman, has consequently lost significant political ground with this new voter profile.
Also, there have been a number of former PRI militants who have cast off their red-white-and-green shirts to joint the ranks of Morena, and these new AMLO converts will no doubt want a more stabilizing leader in the years ahead. They have known Ebrard for years and are far more comfortable with him than with the other two potential candidates.
By the same token, there are many Mexicans who will vote for a candidate, not a party. And even among the most-outspoken opponents of López Obrador and his so-called Fourth Transformation (4T), it is clear that Ebrard is the most acceptable candidate and, therefore, the most competitive of the group of Morena-ite hopefuls. Ebrard would be, by far, the standard-bearer who would most counteract the anti-Morena vote, the one who would generate the least rejection of the president’s party, and the one who would most divide the opposition vote.
Still, Ebrard could be a wild card. Clearly, he is a major player today within the López Obrador cabinet in daily government operations, and he has a solid background in international relations. Mexico’s democracy may well be in crisis, but its globalization is more inevitable than ever before.
But in spite of everything, López Obrador’s affections and preferences definitely point toward Sheinbaum over Ebrard, or, if a Plan B is necessary, toward López Hernández.
If the presidential election were held today, the candidate that would seem to assure Morena a practically undeniable victory, even against the most solid of the opposition alliances, is Ebrard.
López Obrador likes to fancy himself as a pragmatic politician, but he has often proven himself to be driven by his whims rather than political logic. The poor selection of a 2024 presidential candidate could prove to be AMLO’s biggest political downfall.
So what would happen if López Obrador were to not choose Ebrard as his successor? If Ebrard’s were to accept AMLO’s political slight, he would never again have an opportunity to be president, and he knows it. There is the possibility that he would once again switch parties and run on his own or under a different political banner.
Some pundits have said that Ebrard does not have the political wherewithal to break with López Obrador and that, whatever happens, he will align himself with AMLO respect his decision for a successor when the time comes. But whatever he does, today Ebrard is the great variable, still indeterminate, within the equation of presidential succession in Mexico.