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Mexico’s presidential race officially started this week with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the current president, as the central figure despite not appearing on the ballot next year. Mexican writer and analyst Luis Rubio claims that López Obrador has created the necessary conditions to make him the important figure in the 2024 election and that whoever he decides to contend with from any party will be against him. Rubio states that López Obrador is defending his ground, wants to dominate the process, and be in control of everything that occurs between now and then.

The National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) political party founded by López Obrador has already conquered the state governorship in the State of Mexico (the most populous) as the race for the presidential election begins. However, Rubio acknowledges that “if the election were held today or this week, there is no doubt that the president could have put whoever he wanted to win the election, and he would win it by far, but political cycles have their way of working.” One of the crucial factors that could impact the election outcome is the discord within MORENA, a movement without the traditional party discipline that revolves around López Obrador. The potential candidates for MORENA’s candidacy have already run into friction, with the leading contenders including Claudia Sheinbaum, the head of the Government of Mexico City, and Marcelo Ebrard, the foreign minister. Rubio believes that these internal struggles could cause the election to be turned around.

Mexico’s presidential elections coincide with the United States’ elections, something that has not happened since 2012. However, the atmosphere now is marked by the anti-Mexican rhetoric of the US Republicans, who propose declaring war on the Mexican cartels, designating them as terrorists, and insisting on the border wall. Rubio believes that “the most contentious issues (in the United States) are going to be precisely migration and fentanyl or drugs in general, and in both, Mexico is the most important issue,” he deepens. Additionally, a possible recession in the US and its domino effect on Mexico could also affect the election.

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The major issues in Mexico, including poverty, corruption, inequality, justice, and violence, remain the same issues that will define the campaigns as they did in 2018 when López Obrador first won the election. Rubio concludes that Mexico has the capability to overcome these issues, but a different vision is needed, avoiding the failure of 2018.

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