President Andrés Manuel López Obrador yesterday uncovered Claudia Sheinbaum as his successor. He didn’t say it exactly, but to a good understanding, few words.
It was in the morning, when answering a question about the rally in the Zócalo on March 18 to commemorate the oil expropriation, where he once again revived the resistance of conservative and interest groups to the policies of President Lázaro Cárdenas, from where he fell in General Francisco J. Múgica, whom he has said is the revolutionary he most admires. It was not a reference to which the President has not used in the past, but in the current succession context it is highly significant.
In his political-historical elegy, López Obrador recalled the opposition of interest groups to the oil expropriation, who also did not agree with Cárdenas’ agrarian, labor and educational policies, of which General Múgica had been the ideologue and architect in the Constitution of 1917. But the President did not stay in the moments that preceded March 18, 1938, but drew little subliminal analogies.
“Those groups opposed and confronted General Cárdenas. They grouped together at that time, the entire right, they supported Almazán’s candidacy in 1940,” he said of General Juan Andreu Almazán, who began preparing his candidacy in 1939. “There was so much pressure from the conservatives… the PAN had no candidate (because) it had barely been (founded), but he supported Almazán. The party of the Revolution nominated (General Manuel) Ávila Camacho”.
The narrative of what happened 80 years ago is current, and with different names every morning it is recreated in the National Palace. But historically, in effect, Cárdenas opted for a less radical revolutionary than Múgica, who was also close to him, General Ávila Camacho, to confront the popular Almazán.
As a result, López Obrador recounted, “there the Revolution and the ideals began to be diverted, but drawing conclusions and seeing the good, the civil war was avoided. The right was very ready for confrontation and violence. So, instead of General Múgica, Ávila Camacho is running. He was more moderate, and although there was violence in the election anyway, there was an arrangement, a pact, an alliance.
Thus, he concluded, General Cárdenas had to sacrifice his candidate for stability and social peace. In the President’s head, this scenario does not seem non-existent on the current horizon. Last November, the governor of Sinaloa, Rubén Rocha, revealed in his semanera –a non-daily copy of the morning– that he had spoken with the President about the succession, and believed that there was a possibility that, like Cárdenas, López Obrador could not having the possibility to leave whoever he really wanted as his successor. How much of what Rocha said was based on the reflections of López Obrador? It is not possible to know, but it can be argued that a repetition of the succession of Cárdenas, in 2024, is not going to happen.
López Obrador believes that there is a movement of the conservative right to derail his project and prevent Morena from repeating in the Presidency, but he has also given evidence that he is not going to negotiate the succession as Cárdenas did. These are different moments, and although in 1940 a fracture between the revolutionary generals and a partition in ideological terms and economic interests were at risk, today that division does not have what was left over then: weapons and objective conditions for that break.
The President needs his Múgica to continue with his project. As the Secretary of the Interior, Adán Augusto López, stated a few weeks ago in the presidential office, whoever takes over from López Obrador needs to commit to not backing down on the megaprojects, with special emphasis on the fact that the airport should in no way be revived from Texcoco. Would this be enough for the President’s friend to succeed him? According to an astute observer, “Mexico can’t stand another Tabasco in the Presidency.” Furthermore, as happened in the 1988 and 1994 presidential successions, the candidate must not only agree with the project, but also be ideologically in tune with it.
In this sense, the Head of Government, not the Secretary of the Interior, is the one who fills the profile that continuity must be based on ideology, not pragmatism. In the same way, the Secretary of Foreign Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, can read in López Obrador’s statement the insurmountable obstacle for him to be chosen by the President as payment for not contesting the presidential candidacy of 2012. It is not the variable of gratitude that that will define the candidacy of Morena, but the commitment that the change initiated does not accept nuances.
Ideological commitment is what López Obrador asks for, and it is what Sheinbaum gives him every day, with the repetition of the presidential word and the radicalization of the issues where his mentor and protector is located. The head of government is in the public logic of polarization, although in private she is offering olive branches and promising that, once the presidential sash crosses her chest, there will be changes of form. They will not be in the background, it must be clear, which could be seen as a betrayal of the Lopez Obrador project.
The succession is transparent and López Obrador works every day so that those conservative forces that he identifies as his personal and political enemies, receive their dose of shrapnel every day that prevents them from rising up against him. There is no one in the opposition trench to López Obrador who excites like Almazán and who could even face him, to change his successor for an Ávila Camacho, to guarantee stability and social peace.
That is guaranteed with him in the presidential chair. There will be no disorder in the 2024 presidential elections, as long as Sheinbaum wins the Presidency, which he will, according to polls, unless not she, but López Obrador, falls off the rails.