President López Obrador's party has a huge electoral challenge in 2024: Mexico City, where the left has ruled for 25 years and where Morena collapsed in the 2021 midterm elections. It is not just any square. As much as the party wins the presidency, governing in cohabitation with the right in the capital is a major challenge. Here is one of the keys why the figure of former Secretary of Security Omar García Harfuch has been sounding strongly to compete in 2024, above in the polls of other names more linked to the president's Transformation project, his possible pull among the wealthiest classes. Harfuch will have to measure himself in the internal polls of the party with the mayor of Iztapalapa, Clara Brugada, she yes, linked to Morena since its foundation; completes the shortlist with political significance, and to everyone's surprise, a well-known character, the epidemiologist Hugo López-Gatell, who piloted the fight against the pandemic. Mariana Boy Tamborell, the head of the Environmental and Territorial Planning Office (PAOT), who already ran for the same position for the Green Party in 2018, completes the quartet.
With the game still very open, the policeman, the economist and the doctor will probably be the names that will be heard most by Morena in the upcoming survey, when the echo of the previous one is not yet extinguished, which raised victorious Claudia Sheinbaum, who during this six-year term occupied the position for which her coreligionists are now enlisted on the starting line. When the flag has not yet been given, the pushes between Harfuch and Brugada are already felt, surely the only ones who have any real chance, as happened previously with Sheinbaum and former Foreign Minister Ebrard.
Brugada (Mexico City, 60 years old) is a race politician, graduated in Economics from the UNAM and since then in the social struggle. She flies her Morenoist pedigree and the achievements of her management at the head of the mayor's office of Iztapalapa, the most populous and poor, the granary of votes of the capital, 1.4 million voters of which she retained for Morena 57% of the support in 2021. At his rallies, one can already hear a slogan that goes straight to Harfuch's jaw: "More utopia and less police." The utopias are the 12 cultural, recreational and sports complexes that he has inaugurated, the indisputable hallmark of his mandate.
Harfuch (Cuernavaca, 41 years old) has already put on his Morena vest and has defended himself in the last hours with this phrase: "Among the police there are also men of the left, more than the people who live in the discourse." But perhaps it is not only the votes of the left that the ruling party is looking for with Harfuch in the electoral poster. And it will not be the ideology of what the police will have to defend themselves most in these rough pre-campaign times, but of a stain on his file that does not come out even with the best soap: his presence in the meetings where the so-called "historical truth" was conceived, that is, the handful of lies with which what happened with the 43 normalistas disappeared in Guerrero nine years ago was blurred.
A law graduate, the policeman "represents the pragmatic dimension of Morena, a party that had aspirations to form political cadres and strengthen institutions and now thinks more about winning elections." This is the only way historian Humberto Beck, of the Center for International Studies of Colmex, understands the presence of Harfuch as a candidate. He leads the citizens' preferences when the will to run did not even pass through his head. At the beginning of last year his name already sounded strong, boosted in popularity by the spectacular attack he suffered, 400 bullets against his car that bore the signature of the Jalisco New Generation cartel. And because of the citizen's perception of security in the capital. "That's their most tangible achievement, and security is transversal in ideological or class terms," Beck continues. The more right-wing population will value that achievement and may care less whether or not it was involved or to what extent in the Ayotzinapa case. "The authorities didn't care when they put him as secretary of security," Beck says.
The people of the capital don't just care about security, however. At the local level, public transport is one of the battles of any city to win elections or retain power. In Iztapalapa, the humble classes fly to work: the cable bus inaugurated in this mandate is one of the achievements of the mayor's office and the head of government and Brugada is already being asked for another one for new neighborhoods if he comes to power. "Brugada has political and social networks and a third of the population under its control. It is deeply Morenoite and leftist, but Morena has decided that candidates are now chosen by polls open to the population." That is the great change mentioned by Héctor Tejera Gaona, an anthropologist at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM). And the city's population prefers, for now, Harfuch. In the political gossip they refer to López Obrador's sympathies for Brugada, being that he likes people with ideology, as he often mentions. However, in recent times he has dedicated some caress to the former Secretary of Security and this Thursday he even openly defended him from those who link him to Ayotzinapa. Being in a meeting doesn't make you guilty of anything, the president argued.
Tejera Gaona believes, however, that this process will be more controlled by Morena than the previous poll that decided the presidential candidate, where the candidates negotiated which polling houses and how those questionnaires would be lifted and monitored. Traditionally it was the networks that the parties wove neighborhood by neighborhood that conditioned the citizen vote, but "an open survey will take into account what the middle class also says, for example, and there you have a man who guarantees criminal stability in the CDMX," explains Tejera Gaona, although he is not so sure of the security achievements associated with Harfuch. who for now, he says, only hears him "repeat that he will continue with Sheinbaum's policy, but not talk about a government project." "In a survey open to the whole city, the importance of the policy carried out in Iztapalapa can be disfigured." "And if the party supports him even with the Ayotzinapa case..."
Brugada has already mentioned the key words: middle class. And even his image is now less casual and more formal. The pirate skipper of the ship of utopia, with his colorful turban in his hair may not be liked by what his boss would call fifís. The Iztapalapense is convinced that the right reached its peak in 2021, but just in case she announces that she wants a city "of middle classes, where the population leaves poverty and has more income and public services." Harfuch has youth and beauty, not inconsiderable factors in an election; Brugada takes advantage of the pull of being a woman, who also provides her votes with a feminist movement stronger than ever.
If the polls were won by the best known to the public among the candidates, Hugo López-Gatell would have no adversary, neither in the capital nor in the rest of the country. Also the astonishment that has aroused his unveiling for the head of government crosses a good part of the Republic. The prestigious epidemiologist led the fight against the pandemic from the televisions of each house on a daily basis. It was said in those terrible months that he was as well known as the president, and no wonder. Like him, all those who held the same position in each country became famous. His popularity grew like that of a rock star, if not in the streets, which were deserted at the time, then on social networks, where his fans loved him. But the foam faded as the dimension of the covid tragedy in Mexico became known and when the political role it played was playing tricks on it. The epidemiologist, a great communicator, was irrefutable; The politician left something to be desired. Some think that López-Gatell's irruption in the internal Morenoite contest comes from the National Palace. "Gatell is the symbol of the most recalcitrant ideological dimension of Morena, of those who refuse to admit the catastrophe of the pandemic in Mexico. That his candidacy is conceived is representative of the reality constructed by the party, the ideological fiction that Mexico succeeded with the pandemic," begins analyst Beck. "It was López Obrador who somehow uncovered it, mentioned it and the fact that he is among the candidates suggests that the president has not completely let go of the baton of command," he says. Gatell's relationship with Claudia Sheinbaum was strained in the pandemic. The city followed, in some way, its own measures, sometimes far from the Gatellian slogans. The symbol was the mask: the epidemiologist resisted wearing it, Sheinbaum never took it off.
Beck believes that Gatell chose the political rather than the scientific, and that took its toll. The fact is that the doctor seems to want to continue the political path, but for now everything is unanswered questions. What role does it play in this contest? Will he split the votes and thus favor Harfuch? Are you looking for any of those consolation prizes that are being offered to those who do not win the survey, a senate, perhaps? Or maybe it's just that he's confident in his chances to win and wants to try. "Gatell is a proposal of López Obrador," says anthropologist Tejera Gaena. What that means and where that play might go is still a mystery.
The race for Mexico City is more interesting than the previous polls that have been held. The horizon was clearer previously, everyone predicted that Sheinbaum would win in his field and it is known that Morena starts with a good advantage to take over the presidency in 2024. Who will win now in the ruling party is not yet known, and even less if the winner will be able to twist in his favor the results that the city threw in 2021, the great fiasco for the left of the intermediate elections. The coalition of the Broad Front for Mexico recovered the illusion under the brand of Xóchitl Gálvez, but at the same time withdrew from the capital contest, to seek the presidency, a woman who seemed the winning card. There is nothing determined for the 2024 elections in the heart of Mexico.
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