On Sunday the Mexicans decided two things. They gave Morena more territorial power, making it the main party on the map. At the same time, they narrowed their scope for action in Congress, which in any case will be wide as they have a comfortable absolute majority together with their allies. In other words, the majority of voters sent a series of messages to Andrés Manuel López Obrador: they renewed their confidence in the president so that he could govern until 2024, but not at any price. That is to say, without enough force to change the rules of the game in the name of his project, the so-called Fourth Transformation. In addition, they punished the ruling party in Mexico City and opened the door to the recomposition of the opposition front, especially the traditional parties, the PRI and the PAN.
All these premises lay the foundations for the governability of the president, who is about to reach the middle of the six-year term, in the second part of the mandate. And they also make up the starting box for the next presidential elections. López Obrador already exhibited in the morning press conference on Monday a satisfaction without half measures. It was said “happy”. And he repeated it three times. The president did indeed win the local and federal elections. But not with enough drive to be able to approve, with the support of the Green Party and the Labor Party, constitutional reforms. That threshold, two-thirds of the Chamber of Deputies (334 of the 500 seats), is called a qualified majority. It does have, with those benches, a simple or absolute majority, 279 seats. However, these numbers reflect a drop in the entire block of more than 10% compared to the current composition. This Tuesday he has downplayed it, even suggesting that he could win the support of the PRI, the epitome of everything he has always attacked. “If you wanted to have a qualified majority, which is two-thirds, you could reach an agreement with a party of legislators from the PRI or any other party, but not many are needed for constitutional reform,” he said, showing a slide of the composition of the Chamber with a count that does not coincide with the one released on Sunday by the National Electoral Institute (INE).
The president not only did not acknowledge the wear, but also attributed the fall – also reflected in the loss of four mayoralties in the capital – to criticism from the press, which he usually includes among his adversaries. “Also [hay que] keep in mind that here is more media bombardment, this is where the dirty war suffers the most, this is where you can read this UK magazine, The Economist, that is, here is everything, “he said in reference to an editorial that described it as a” danger to democracy. ” The most relevant of the results, in any case, is that the correlation of forces will not allow it to modify the legal architecture of the country, enshrined in the Constitution. It will not be able to unblock, for example, its energy agenda, a controversial package of reforms of the electricity system and the hydrocarbon sector that after the parliamentary process was paralyzed in the courts by the protection of private companies. López Obrador will have the power to promote his political project through normal legislative channels. Untill there.
The main aspiration of the president is to leave an indelible mark on the history of Mexico. He has never hidden it and in that context you have to read his plans. However, the so-called Fourth Transformation, defended every morning in their press conferences, is also a mechanism to retain the vote and even expand the base of supporters. And that instrument is now limited by the distribution of Congress. López Obrador has, however, a crucial spring for the next three years: his ability to campaign, which has always been his natural playing field, and his ability to turn any debate into confrontation. The recovery of the opposition of the PRI-PAN-PRD, which increases its seats by almost 50% (from 137 to 197) and, despite the lack of strong leadership, has a greater chance of becoming a threat, closes in some way that circle.
The race for the presidential elections poses at least two battles. The most direct confronts Morena with her adversaries. In 2018, the traditional forces suffered an unprecedented cataclysm and were dismantled, with no capacity for action, during the legislature. Local elections have shown that they have the capacity to respond, which, in the absence of knowing the details of the origin of the vote, is probably due to a disappointment of some social sectors with the Government. The race is long, but this attempt at recomposition and a greater presence in legislative activity are a first step. The Movimiento Ciudadano (MC) party remains stagnant in Parliament, but Samuel García’s victory in a particularly symbolic state, Nuevo León, the industrial and economic heart of Mexico, represents another front for the president.
The second battle is internal. In Mexico there is no reelection and the conditions for popular consensus do not exist to propose this constitutional reform. López Obrador has not yet given his party leaders permission to begin to position themselves. However, everyone knows that the succession will pass, first of all, by an appointment of the president. Sunday’s results also offer a reading in that regard. Claudia Sheinbaum, Head of Government of Mexico City, and the Secretary of Foreign Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, are two of the names that sound the most. The first, which a month ago had to face the crisis of the collapse of Line 12 of the metro, was affected by the loss of four of the 11 city halls of the capital in which Morena had control. The second, who was councilor when that work was inaugurated, is less challenged by the verdict of these elections since his job as chancellor.
A SIMO Consulting survey for EL PAÍS carried out after the accident placed Sheinbaum as a favorite against Ebrard and Senator Ricardo Monreal, another of the Morenoist positions indicated as a possible candidate to succeed López Obrador. None of the three, however, have yet spoken openly about their intentions. They await the approval of the president. When that moment arrives, the electoral pre-campaign of the presidential elections will officially begin. Meanwhile, everyone, from the Government and from the opposition, is preparing the ground for the starting gun.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS México newsletter and receive all the informative keys of the news of this country