A Storm at the Center of Mexico: AMLO’s succession

At this point, the presidential elections in Mexico are 24 months away; however, the fight has already begun. The spotlight is on Morena, the party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), which is the undisputed favorite to retain control of the National Palace.

According to a survey by the conservative newspaper El Financiero-Bloomberg, Morena currently has 51% of the vote, while the opposition parties PRI, PAN and PRD have only a 36% approval.

López Obrador’s numbers must be added to those. At this moment, the president has a 60% popularity rating, after the pandemic, a global inflation crisis and permanent media attacks. Note: this is according to the numbers of a right-wing newspaper.

Therefore, the debate is not about which party or coalition will win the elections, but who will win, waving the flag of Morena and its allies.

The political climate within AMLO’s party is getting hottter; so much so that the President used his traditional morning conference to refer to the matter. In response to questions as to whether he or his government is favoring anyone, López Obrador assured that there will be a “level playing field” in the election of the candidacy.

 Claudia vs. Marcelo

There are two leading figures: the current mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón.

According to the polls, Sheinbaum outperforms Ebrard 42 to 39 points. Tatiana Clouthier Carrillo, Secretary of Economy, is far behind with 28 points.

Claudia Sheinbaum

Knowing that the race is tight and that AMLO has already given the starting signal for the succession, Sheinbaum and Ebrard began to travel around the country and to exploit their social networks to the maximum.

They take advantage of any occasion. For example, a municipal forum on governance, despised in regular times and beyond the borders of the capital, is the perfect occasion for the governor of the CDMX to walk among her supporters as a “guest”. For his part, the chancellor takes advantage of every moment to upload photos of himself carrying puppies or casually greeting people on the street or at the airport. There is no doubt that these are times of political competition.

The goal is to be the most popular, because AMLO suggested that Morena should decide its candidacy through an open poll. This is how they have solved each of their internal contests for gubernatorial elections and it could not be the exception for 2024.

When, by whom and how will this survey be conducted? Moreover, will there be a survey? It is not known. It is still too early to get entangled in technicalities. The important thing, for now, is to raise those numbers, to win the street. Because everything indicates that in these months it will be decided what will happen in two years; that the election day will be a formality.

 The adversary is the fracture

So much for formalities. What is certain is that the drums of war are beating in Morena and there are many who are warning about a possible fracture.

One of the spokespersons for Marcelo Ebrard’s pre-candidacy, Senator Marta Lucía Micher, let it be known that there would be presidential favoritism for Sheinbaum. That there is no “even floor”, she said in a press conference. Hence, AMLO had to use his morning show to deny it.

Senator Ricardo Monreal Ávila, who is the coordinator of the Morena bench in the Senate, has also launched himself directly against the internal process of his party. He also aspires to the presidential candidacy, but said that, if it was defined by a poll, he would not participate and accused that there are “vices of origin”.

Marcelo Ebrard

On the other hand, another of the aspirants, not from Morena but from one of its allies, the Partido del Trabajo, federal deputy Gerardo Fernández Noroña, was more direct and called for President López Obrador to “take his hands out” of the candidacy election process. Despite that, he said he was satisfied with a survey.

Another element must be added: the role of the Secretary of the Interior, Adán Augusto López Hernández. Originally from Tabasco like the President and his most trusted man, his name was enlisted by AMLO himself -together with Sheinbaum and Ebrard- as a possible candidate for the Presidency. With the advantage that López Hernández has the country’s internal politics in his hands. He is, therefore, the one who will deal the cards given by the President for the succession game and, therefore, the one in charge of avoiding fracture.

In the eye of the storm 

The first stone in the construction of 2024 was laid on this Saturday, July 30. Morena held elections throughout the country for the election of representatives to its third Ordinary National Congress.

The election was held in the 300 federal districts throughout the country. In each of these, 10 congressmen were elected, five men and five women, resulting in 3,000 members that will make up the Morena National Congress that will meet on September 17 and 18. There, the plenary will elect 300 members of the National Council, which will then make decisions on the method of election of the presidential candidate, candidacies for the state elections of that year (State of Mexico and Coahuila, the remaining bastions of the PRI), the Party’s by-laws and the possible renewal or ratification of the Morena leadership.

This means that the presidential aspirant who brings the most allies to the Congress will be able to take control of the Party in its National Council, and therefore, of the game board. At the same time, conventions will be held throughout the country where state leaderships will be renewed, thus multiplying the dynamics.  

At this moment, the national presidency of Morena is held by Mario Delgado Carrillo, Marcelo Ebrard’s alphil. His permanence is crucial to the Chancellor’s aspirations, for the reasons stated above. But Sheinbaum presses and Adán Augusto sharpens his knives, one step behind.

And even though Andrés Manuel López Obrador assures that there will be no rupture, scolds, says that the rules are clear and that he will not interfere, Morena behaves like a force of nature, chaotic and overwhelming, heading for the National Palace. At this moment nobody knows what will happen, except that, from the eye of their storm, the one who will succeed AMLO will emerge. 


  • Luis Alberto Rodriguez Angeles. Writer and journalist. National Journalism Award for Human Rights by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico. Reporter with 20 years of experience covering social movements. Teacher and activist.

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