The absence of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador from the public arena for more than three days for health reasons had an appearance: how did those who aspire to succeed him act and behave? To whom they gave the stage, it was too big. The candidate furthest from the deepest desires of the President, surprised. And the favorite, he couldn’t swim by himself.
The eventuality due to the President’s health accident has turned the spotlight on one of the so-called “corcholatas”, the Secretary of the Interior Adán Augusto López, who by law and because López Obrador wanted him, led the government while the CEO did not could deal with state affairs. Secretary López received a political peanut from heaven, but he could not eat it.
It was the second time he had the opportunity to shine, after replacing the president in the morning and formally taking office in January 2022, when he tested positive for covid-19 for the second time, and the prudence with which he behaved won him over. applause. Today was the opposite. He showed up in the morning uninformed and quarrelsome, confused and contradictory. The moment he had to show his courage, he generated instability and produced uncertainties.
The episode considerably reduced the presence of the head of government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, in public opinion, even if, paradoxically, she did not remain motionless. He announced salary increases for more than 25,000 central government workers, began a US tour to meet migrants, and attended the Cities of the Americas Summit on Climate Change and Mobility in Cities with his peers from around the world , the continent. Concrete initiatives and acts of genius that remained in the background, demonstrating that without the helium injected by López Obrador she cannot fly.
The third in the running, the secretary of foreign relations, Marcelo Ebrard, did not have many chances to be seen, but he had a very significant ray of light, the photograph in which he appears together with the first non-woman, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, exchanging I smiled during one of her events, the Fandango for Reading in Tabasco, with no situation or pretext for the chancellor to accompany her.
Ebrard suffered with Gutiérrez Müller’s intervention in foreign policy matters, such as with the letter to the King of Spain requesting an apology for the conquest and appointments to embassies that did not go through him for his opinion. But in the face of the attacks, Ebrard was resilient in thinking about the presidential candidacy, and with the moderate certainty that López Obrador will repay him with the candidacy he sold to him in 2012 and the work done at the Farnesina.
The handicap that Ebrard has in the presidential race is that he does not belong to the inner circle of López Obrador, as do Sheinbaum and the other Lópezes. This lack of belonging dragged her down for a long time. In that group they consider him a traitor because of the resistance he presented when he contested the presidential candidacy with López Obrador, and because they are convinced that if he became president he would make changes to the López Obrador project. Ebrard will, but he didn’t hide it. Since the autumn of last year, he has been making his offer of “continuity with change”, which the hardline sector around the president and Morena has strongly criticized.
Continuity with change is what Sheinbaum and the other Lópezes have offered informally to business interest groups, with whom they have met discreetly or sent messages to emphasize that the way López Obrador is handling the presidency will change in tone and intensity.
However, in the spirit of these groups, the inclination towards Ebrard remains, whom they consider relatively as a more attractive figure for investors and with whom there could be a better, less ideological and more pragmatic dialogue. Sheinbaum is antithetical to Ebrard, while the other López is seen as an attractive candidate but for the worst reasons: they think they can make deals with him under the old regime.
The interior secretary missed a big chance in the three days that López Obrador failed to appear in public, but it is believed within his team that he is back in the real fight for the candidacy. “He’s not going to achieve it,” says a public opinion expert on his true potential. In that logic, no matter how much he does and no matter how much money he puts into promoting him, he’s not going to pose a threat to Sheinbaum or Ebrard.
López, the secretary, moved during the three days of the president’s absence and on Wednesday led a meeting with the governors of Morena and the super-delegates at the National Palace, not in Bucareli, an important point because symbols play a lot in regimes with a upright and authoritative political culture. Sheinbaum, who started the week with a cascade of fans in various parts of the country that he visited over the weekend, got lost in the dust storm stirred up by the president’s health. Ebrard did practically nothing, but what he did is invaluable. The photograph with Gutiérrez Müller, the wife of the president of the symbols, was a message, but for whom?
Sheinbaum is the natural recipient, and its significance has been magnified because it could not shine without the shelter of López Obrador, who has no need for Ebrard, who made an apparent mistake by announcing that, among other things, the anti-inflation summit of Cancun was postponed due to the president’s covid, fueling speculation about his health. The other López denied it, but the shackles no longer creaked in the Palace, because his erratic performance during the week, with repeated lies and inaccuracies, took away the credibility of his word.
In those three days the corcholatas, due to the circumstances and the situation, had to walk without the support of López Obrador, and we have already seen what happened. But no one counts in this contest, except the convalescent, who will decide who he wants to succeed him.