In more ways than one, Claudia Sheinbaum’s six-year term has already begun. The decisions that are being made will affect the functioning, limits and possibilities of the next Government. Of course, the most decisive thing will be her program and the cabinet necessary to carry it out. Both things are in the process of maturing: the teams that prepare the documents of what will be the Government plan have been working for weeks and surely several of the coordinators will occupy leading positions in the new Administration. But many others will leave the current Government, both the federal one and that of Mexico City (where part of the team that accompanied him in recent years continues to operate).
The problem with recruiting collaborators is that politics does not operate like a company. Impossible to resort to head hunters, to professional recruiting offices, unless it is assumed that a public servant is equivalent to being an employee of Coca Cola, as Vicente Fox did, with very debatable results. Nor is it a free exercise in which the challenge is limited to finding the best profile for each position. And this is not the case because politics is the difficult art between the possible and the desirable.
The success of the Sheinbaum Government will have to do, in part, with the way in which it can manage the pressures to define candidacies, now, and distribution of positions in the cabinet, later. These are pressures that she cannot ignore, but she cannot give in to many of them either because, otherwise, they would handcuff her government. Where would they come from?
López Obrador Circle. Regardless of whether the president truly refrains from trying to influence and leave controls over his successor, inertia itself leads the men and women of the first circle to try to place their most loyal or most exposed collaborators. What will happen to Jesús Ramírez, the spokesperson for the National Palace, with AMLO’s two or three personal operators, with Max Arriaga and another dozen bishops close to the president’s family?
The tribes, the radicals. Without López Obrador’s charisma or historic leadership, the president will be forced to find a new balance based on consensus as much as vertical command. López Obrador was able to leave the tribes or the traditional left out of key positions; Sheinbaum will probably be forced to share some positions, to avoid an open flank within her own ranks. Let us remember the incidents that have already occurred in recent months and that make it clear that these groups will not offer the same unconditional subordination as AMLO: the candidacy of Clara Brugada against that of Omar García Harfuch, or the opposition to an alliance with Jorge Hank Rohn in the Tijuana case.
Governors and other internal groups. Morena executives and the necessary award in recognition of merit to key operators of the campaign or the pressure from governors to place candidates in mayors, seats and seats. Sheinbaum’s team will have to fend off most of these pressures, but there is a limit. He requires allies to govern throughout the territory, operators capable of doing the work in the party or in the chambers and these are not always the unconditional ones and, above all, if there are none within his team. A resentful governor, or several, can become a nuisance for the National Palace because they have a territorial power base outside the president.
Campaign rivals. It is not clear what weight Marcelo Ebrard and Adán Augusto López will still have, to whom the president offered a lot in exchange for them accepting the result that ended up crowning Claudia (being coordinators of the legislative branch). Such promises are already discarded, but that does not mean that it is advisable to ignore them, particularly in the case of Marcelo, whose current, although diminished, is still alive.
Allied parties. The Green, the Labor Party and other nearby union currents will need positions that allow them to sustain the alliance that the government requires not only for electoral reasons but, subsequently, to obtain the votes necessary for the approval of its policies and budgets in the chambers. I am not talking about what is desirable (getting rid of the mercenary parties) but about the real policy that leads to seeking allies to confront the opposition forces. I wish Claudia could do without such false friends, but it is not likely. The issue is how to do it with the least possible risk for the effects of contamination and ethical and political deterioration.
Popular candidates. At least as far as campaigns are concerned, Sheinbaum and the Morena leadership are subject to a low presence in some regions and the fact that a person suitable for a task is not always in a position to win the election. The problem is assessing the cost to pay when the one who is in a position to do so is far from being a good prospect as a ruler or legislator: the unfortunate cases of Cuauhtémoc Blanco in Morelos or Lilly Tellez in the senate should be a lesson to follow for Brunette.
Gender parity and other balances. The sum of the best for each position does not always result in a desirable balance. But today every leader is obliged to achieve it.
In reality, these pressures, with some variations, are similar to those experienced by every new head of state in any country. It is the nature of politics. In Mexico it was resolved with an all-out presidential system until 30 years ago, but even within this the president sought balance. In the following administrations, the partyocracies and the business elite considerably influenced these distributions (Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto). But López Obrador’s strong leadership restored presidential margin and he was able to operate with broad freedom. The real limitation that the Tabasco native had was that his movement lacked sufficient personnel to take charge of the federal public administration. He remedied this lack essentially by using former PRI members and it seems to me that this violated the agendas of the Fourth Transformation itself.
With Claudia Sheinbaum we have an unprecedented situation. It is impossible to return to the presidential autonomy of the last century and the absolute control that López Obrador exercised in Morena will not be able to operate. But, fortunately, it is not seen that economic or partisan elites are going to have a significant influence. The first signs indicate that she would seek to recruit among professionals and university students the enormous inventory of cadres that the administration requires, and dispense with the many former PRI members on whom the current government relied. We will see it in the coming months. She will surely have more margin in defining the cabinet. But, for now, her team will have to do everything possible so that the scramble of candidates does not leave room for a cast that limits her, boycotts her or makes her suffer future embarrassments.
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