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Mexican Opposition Collaborates with López Obrador’s Attempts to Retain Power

Imagen: EFE/Mario Guzmán

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AMLO will win the 2024 presidential elections, on or off the ballot, with a candidate inside or outside his party, because his political project is consolidating while the Mexican opposition has already shown itself incapable of getting out of its bubble. At this rate, the opposition will get 36% of the vote and they will lose.

And together with the opposition, Mexico as a whole will lose, including those who in July 2024 will vote in favor of the candidate promoted by AMLO.

Why? Because the concept of nationhood promoted by President López Obrador is that of a centralist, presidential and capricious republic, where lives and estates are subject to the good or bad will of the president, with no more room for maneuver than that which the lesser powers find within the big tent of the new regime. In other words, a “perfected” PRI capable of taking over the state for decades.

The seduction of the regime

The first one is the persistent popularity of López Obrador and his government project. According to El Economista’s daily monitoring, Andrés Manuel reached 64.1 % of support last November 5, a level similar to the one he had in April 2019, when his Administration was just starting.

That is to say, after almost 3 years of a disastrous government, also marked by the worst economic recession in almost a century, within the framework of the worst pandemic in the last 100 years, which hit Mexico to the tune of almost 300,000 dead and counting, the president has not lost popularity among the population.

Therefore, if the opposition was unable to erode AMLO’s popularity after a year and a half of pandemic, economic recession, insecurity unleashed at levels never seen before and constant administrative blunders, it is very reasonable to think that they will not be able to erode it in the second half of the six-year term.

And this is due not only to the insufferable arrogance of the opponents themselves and the undeniable charisma of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but also to a very deep and painful reality: for Mexicans, AMLO’s authoritarian and messianic vision feels good; like a comfortable slipper or a warm blanket, which may be in tatters, but we continue to embrace it while watching Netflix.

This is not, however, something new. Back in the 20th century the PRI managed to understand the social tendencies of Mexicans and distill them into discourse and a political system capable of surviving for decades in the midst of widespread “social peace”; well, López Obrador has distilled a 2.0 version of that brew, and Mexico is drinking it with gusto.

In a way it is understandable: after all, Mexican tyranny is not merely a hostile regime, but one that intertwines political imposition with opportunities for progress for those in the system and petty privileges for everyone else. The big compadres will get the multi-million dollar contracts, the small militants the cab license or the local stall. Everyone else will be left with a sense of certainty and the hope of entering the system.

Mexican opposition
AMLO will win if the opposition gets stuck in its conflicts and mistakes. (Image: EFE)

The ineffectiveness of the Mexican opposition

The panorama within the four opposition parties goes from mediocrity to open disaster, and time is playing against them.

The PAN, the main opposition party in the country, is facing such a serious crisis that even its own leader declared in a private event (which was later leaked to the media) that his party has already practically lost 5 of the 6 gubernatorial elections to be held next year, despite the fact that four of those 6 states are currently governed by Acción Nacional.

What happened? For decades the PAN members had a very clear political objective and project: they wanted democracy, alternation in power and to defeat the PRI. They achieved these objectives in 2000, when Vicente Fox became president, but once in government they were unable to fulfill their promises.

They were also unable to renew their narrative, so since then, the PAN has been stumbling forward, and those stumbles that became routine have now turned into a tragic dance. Today, National Action aspires to survive in its strongholds, but it has no candidate capable of fighting the regime on a national scale.

The PRI is catatonic and confused. To begin with, for most PRI members, including its leaders, the practices of obradorism are something natural to them and much more comfortable than the opposition role in which circumstances have placed them.

Yes, they are angry with AMLO, but deep down their anger is more out of envy than discrepancy, so when the time comes to negotiate with the President, many of them will not miss the opportunity to return to being part of the vertical structure in which they grew and prospered for decades, and which AMLO now proposes to rebuild.

The other 2 opposition parties are Movimiento Ciudadano (which has been successful in a couple of states, but also has no national reach) and the PRD, the leftist party that launched Lopez Obrador and is now in the opposition merely because of personal resentments, not an ideological conviction.

The result is a fragile opposition incapable of convincing beyond its circle, which will weaken as López Obrador negotiates with the state governors, because in politics the concentration of power multiplies gravity, which in turn attracts more mass towards the center of power, which in this case is in the National Palace.

Concentrating power

At this stage of the game, the main danger for López Obrador is not even in the opposition, but in the challenge (which we mentioned a few months ago) of maintaining the consistency of his political alliance while he commits to hand over more governmental plots than he has available.

Sooner rather than later he will look bad to many “leaderships” and that will cause him a headache, but he can still get away with it and at least so far the President has been able to weather the storm, besides his capacity of seduction increases as new opposition blunders and civil wars come to light.

So, if things continue as they are going, AMLO will win in 2024 and that victory will be the consolidation of a new era of long-term authoritarian centralism to the sorrow of the opposition and the disgrace of all.

That, or worse.

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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