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Mexico’s Midterms: Three Possible Outcomes

El futuro de México se define el domingo. Imagen: Unsplash

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Mexico’s future will be defined this Sunday, June 6 and the campaigns are silent. Today began the so-called “electoral ban”, a 3-day period where Mexican law prevents candidates and their teams from promoting the vote, in addition to prohibiting the press from disseminating the results of opinion polls.

Therefore, from now on, the political struggle disappears from the surface and is directed towards the depths of the political process, those where vote mobilization and internal logistics allow them to take advantage of their structure to achieve the best result. In view of the circumstances, it is a good time to delve into the analysis of the most viable scenarios for the future of Mexico once the mid-term elections are over.

First: Morena wins the majority of governorships and maintains a two-thirds majority in the Chamber of Deputies

In this case, López Obrador will wake up very happy on Monday, June 7. He will dedicate his daily conferences to emphasize how this electoral result shows the people’s support for his “fourth transformation” process and gives him a mandate to deepen it. In the following weeks the president will announce much more dramatic reforms to the country’s institutional system, which will be presented and approved during the first ordinary session of the new legislature, which begins in September.

The opposition will face much more intense pressure from the ruling party, as the obradoristas will take advantage of the circumstances to divide the opposition, buying the loyalty of parties and candidates to whom they will offer privileges or support in exchange for their joining Morena or supporting the president at key moments, even if nominally they remain militant in their parties.

In the medium term, López Obrador will consolidate his dominion over the Judicial Power, the electoral authorities and the Bank of Mexico, without the opposition being able to exert sufficient legal or political pressure to prevent him from doing so.

Within his party, López Obrador will have the room for maneuver to balance the ambitions of the different power groups and freely position the next president, or even extend his own presidential mandate for at least a couple of years, postponing the presidential elections to 2026.

Mexico would deepen its social, economic and institutional crisis, but the opposition would no longer be in a position to take advantage of these problems for the presidential elections of 2024.

Mexico's future - AMLO - El American
Mexico’s future depends on the elections and if AMLO achieves to impose his project. Image: EFE/Mario Guzmán

Second: Morena wins approximately half of the governorships and maintains a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, but without reaching two thirds of the votes

Depending on the political calculation made in the National Palace, AMLO could opt for two paths: to make an effort to sell the result as the citizen’s mandate to continue with the “fourth transformation” or to denounce that the fraudulent practices of the opposition manipulated the popular will.

In either case, presidential rhetoric will become more aggressive, in an attempt to intimidate opponents and keep potential rivals within his own movement in check. He will most likely order his operators to seek an extraordinary session before September, to pass constitutional reforms taking advantage of his current two-thirds majority in the Chamber of Deputies, pressuring some opposition senators to get the upper chamber’s vote and consolidate his constitutional advantage before giving up that possibility in the new legislature.

Already with the new legislature, the president will consolidate his power as much as possible through reforms to secondary laws, which only require a 50% majority vote in Congress. The focus of these reforms would be mainly in the electoral field, with the disappearance of the INE (National Electoral Institute) as a priority objective.

For the opposition, this scenario will imply the enormous challenge of maintaining unity in the face of increasing pressure from the President, who will try to convince (by hook or by crook) the leadership of the other parties and divide the so-called “containment bloc.”

Third: the opposition snatches Morena’s majority in the Chamber of Deputies

In this case, the president will take the results with fury and will use all the resources of his administration to derail the election and accuse fraud. He will multiply the accusations against the opponents and will accelerate the processes opened against the opposition referents in the Attorney General’s Office.

Basically, he will launch a campaign with two big pincers: the rhetoric of fraud and legal pressures, so that opposition leaders accept the repetition of the elections, at least in those districts and states that are key for Morena.

The president will also intensify pressure against civil society and increase polarization. We will see massive demonstrations called by the pro-worker movement and the opposition will have to do the same. Political confrontation will move from social media to street demonstrations.

In legislative terms the president will use his operators to call for an extraordinary session to approve a broad package of reforms with the intention that the government can consolidate its political advantage before the new legislature places them in a minority.

Eventually, AMLO will be forced to accept that he has lost control of the legislature and that his political project is in serious trouble. He will face desertions among his allies, and even those who continue to support him will sell their support at a much higher price, so he will be forced to bet on one of the groups within his movement and eventually he will have to back a presidential candidate not chosen by him.

For the opposition, the great challenge will be to maintain unity in the face of the temptations implied by the exercise of power, to which another serious risk is added: by controlling the Chamber of Deputies, the opponents will become to a certain extent “co-responsible” for the Government and therefore Obrador will be able to blame them for the inevitable bad results during the second half of his administration.

In return, the opponents will have the political leeway to negotiate and prevent AMLO from capturing the Bank of Mexico and the electoral institutions, placing both sides in a competitive scenario for the 2024 presidential elections.

A reflection on Mexico’s future

Of course, each of these scenarios has other nuances and side possibilities, which for reasons of space it is impossible to raise in one article. However, in general terms this is what can be expected as of next week, and none of the scenarios implies automatic or guaranteed happiness.

In any case, Mexico’s future will continue to be shrouded in uncertainty.

Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”

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