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Va por Mexico is playing for keeps. On June 6th, Mexico will experience the most transcendental and broad mid-term elections in its history. Thousands of public offices are up for election, including 500 federal deputies and (for the first time simultaneously) 15 governors. The elections are even more important because they will function as a sort of referendum regarding the course of the López Obrador Administration, which currently has a large majority in the Chamber of Deputies and could become an almost hegemonic party.
However, the poor performance of the Federal Government in economic matters and its abysmal response to the pandemic have been observed by the population, and this erosion, together with the historical new alliance among traditional parties: the PRI, PAN and PRD, under the slogan of “Va por México,” opens a wide range of opportunities for the opposition to win the elections and prevent the Obradorismo from becoming a hegemonic movement. The main focus of the battle will be in the Chamber of Deputies, since, if Obrador loses the majority, he will be forced to negotiate budgets and reforms with the opposition, instead of simply “majoritizing” them.
The ruling party starts with a clear advantage
The most recent poll, published by El Financiero, shows that the ruling party has a very clear advantage over the opposition alliance. Morena (López Obrador’s party) has a clear advantage in all regions of the country and in all educational levels. In fact, the only age range where the opponents Va por México achieve a very slight advantage is among young people between 18 and 29 years old.
One of the most representative elements of the ruling party’s advantage is that Morena and its allies lead in voting intentions, even among those people who state their labor situation and perspectives as “bad” or “very bad”. That is to say, even those who are suffering the most from the consequences of this government seem willing to support it once again.
All statistical exercises show an advantage for the ruling party, both in the election of federal deputies and in most of the governorships that will be at stake. This is a fact that we cannot ignore; even so, the opposition coordinated through “Va por México” has more than hope, as long as they understand three basic elements.
The three keys to win the elections
- People are disappointed with AMLO
In a normal scenario, the dismal results of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador would be enough for the opposition to defeat him almost on autopilot. This is not the case here because, although more and more people recognize that AMLO has been a failure, this does not imply that they forget the failures and unfulfilled promises of previous governments.
Yes, people are sad about López Obrador’s unfulfilled expectations, but they are still angry with the technocrats whom they consider traitors and corrupt. “Va por México” must understand that it is not freed from the burdens of the past. The PRI, PAN and PRD have earned the distrust of millions of citizens and to regain it, the first step is to recognize that they have not lived up to their promises.
Last week, the national leader of the National Action Party (PAN) offered a timid mea culpa, but this happened overnight; people did not hear about it. To regain the trust of voters they must acknowledge their mistakes in an authentic way and accompany that confession with clear signals that they are not only repentant, but that they have taken the necessary steps to avoid repeating the corruption and deception of the past.
The other underlying lesson of this first key element is that the anti-López discourse works well to mobilize those who already repudiate the president, but it will not be enough to win the election. Va por México does not need to show that AMLO is inept, but that they are better than him.
2. Elections will be local
Although the consequences of the elections will have a profound impact at the national level and much of the media attention will be focused on the race for the 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the elections will have a distinctly local tinge, since thousands of local deputies, mayors, trustees and councilmen will also be renewed.
Therefore, the results of Va por México will depend on the opposition parties launching candidates that are attractive to society and that transmit a message of renewal and honesty. If they assign the candidacies to their own party bureaucracies, society will understand loud and clear the message that, in reality, the only thing that matters to the opposition parties is to maintain their own power; and so society will react by not voting for them. If the much-touted rapprochement with its citizens turns out to be a mere deception, they will not forgive it.
3. Elections will be a game of structures
It is almost impossible for the June 6th elections to register a level of participation higher than 50%. In Mexico, since the advent of democracy, a very clear pattern has been observed: 60% of citizens vote in presidential elections and just over 40% in mid-term elections. Everything indicates that, in 2021, the growing despair with respect to the parties will translate into one of the highest abstention levels in history; perhaps less than 40% of the electoral roll will vote.
In this scenario, what will define the course of the contests is the mobilization of the corporate structures of the various parties.
It does not sound pretty, but it is real. Whoever wins will be the one that manages to attract (sorry, mobilize) the most voters. In this game, the PRI has decades of experience and the disorder that has characterized Morena may become the Achilles heel of Obradorismo.
If Va por México understands that they need to reconcile with society, that they must focus on presenting good candidates at the local level and effectively mobilize their structures, they will achieve victory in the mid-term elections and will be able to contain López Obrador’s authoritarian agenda from the Chamber of Deputies.
On the contrary, if they repeat the arrogance and mistakes of 2018, they will lose. And they will lose badly.
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”