Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard confirmed Tuesday that he intends to seek the candidacy of the ruling Morena party to contest the 2024 presidential election.
His announcement follows the publication of media reports stating that he made his plans known at a lunch with colleagues and close associates on Saturday.
It also comes a week after President López Obrador named six possible successors to his position: Ebrard, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbuam, Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier, Energy Minister Rocío Nahle, ambassador to the United States Esteban Moctezuma and Juan Ramón de la Fuente, Mexico’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
Speaking at López Obrador’s regular news conference on Tuesday, Ebrard thanked the president for considering him as a possible successor and confirmed that he will participate in the Morena party selection process to find a candidate to contest the 2024 election.
That process is still 2 1/2 years away, the foreign minister said, adding that he will continue to focus on his current role in the meantime. He encouraged other possible successors to do the same.
“… Let’s not lose our concentration on what we are doing. Let’s be consistent, perseverant and loyal. And of course when [the selection process] arrives we’ll be ready to participate,” Ebrard said.
At a lunch at a private residence in Toluca, México state, on Saturday that was attended by more than 100 guests including Foreign Ministry officials, federal lawmakers, Morena party insiders and some of Ebrard’s longterm political collaborators, the foreign minister emphatically declared his presidential ambitions, according to people present who subsequently spoke with reporters.
“We’re going to take the president at his word, … yes, we are going to compete [in the candidate selection process],” Ebrard declared to rapturous applause during a 20-minute speech.
According to some attendees who spoke with Reforma, the foreign minister railed against a group of people within Morena’s ranks that he claimed has launched a campaign to kill off his future political prospects by using the May 3 Mexico City Metro disaster against him.
Ebrard was mayor of the capital when Line 12 of the Metro system – part of which collapsed and caused an accident that claimed the lives of 26 people – was built and there have been reports that the project was rushed to ensure it was finished while he was in office in order to boost his chances during a possible tilt at the presidency in 2012. (He didn’t end up running.)
There has been speculation that the tragedy could be fatal to the political ambitions of the minister as well as those of Mayor Sheinbaum, who are considered the frontrunners to succeed López Obrador.
But Ebrard evidently believes he is still alive in a political sense and a good chance of not only securing the Morena party candidacy but also subsequently succeeding López Obrador, as he did in Mexico City after winning the 2006 mayoral election. (AMLO, as the president is commonly known, was Mexico City mayor from 2000 to 2005.)
“… They think that I’m dead but they’ve killed me politically many times,” Ebrard told guests as they ate carne asada (grilled meat) washed down with red wine and beer, according to Reforma.
“… They took me for dead but here we are. We’re going to participate [in the candidate selection process] respecting the rules of the game.”
About a dozen of Ebrard’s colleagues and close associates also delivered speeches at the lunch, reported Reforma, and one of them declared that the foreign minister is the sole person who can offer “proven continuity” of Obradorismo – the López Obrador political doctrine.
Several of the attendees subsequently took to social media to offer their support to Ebrard and post selfies they took with the would-be candidate, even though mobile telephones were ostensibly banned at the event.
“I had the pleasure to speak with Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard. I believe he would be an excellent president of the republic. There is no doubt that he will … provide continuity to the project of the fourth transformation,” wrote Morena party Baja California delegate Ismael Burgueño.
Another strong contender is Mayor Sheinbaum, who was greeted by cheering supporters as “Presidenta” — or Madam President — during Sunday’s inauguration of Mexico City’s new cable car system.
Two days after Ebrard’s lunch, the president broadened his list of possible successors, asserting that there are “many” men and women who could replace him.
“Everyone in [the federal] cabinet, [Morena party] governors, parliamentary leaders, all of them have the possibility [of becoming the candidate for president],” López Obrador told reporters at his regular news conference, held Monday at a military base in Villahermosa, Tabasco.
The Morena candidate will be the person who receives the most support from “the people” in a democratic selection process, he added.
“… That’s the rule, the people will decide … in a free and democratic way who should represent us – … the progressive, liberal movement with a social dimension,” López Obrador said.
The next presidential election will be held on June 2, 2024, four months before AMLO is scheduled to leave office.
The main opposition parties – the National Action Party (PAN), the Institutional Revolutionary Party and the Democratic Revolution Party – appear likely to field a joint candidate as they did in many of the recent gubernatorial elections.
A poll earlier this year found that Ricardo Anaya, the PAN candidate in the 2018 presidential election and a former lawmaker and PAN national president, was the most popular choice to run against Morena in 2024.
Four other choices were offered to those polled: Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro; Senator Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, a longtime politician and interior minister in the 2012-2018 federal government; Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral; and businessman and prominent government critic Claudio X. González.
Another possible contender is Yucatán Governor Mauricio Vila, who PAN national president Marko Cortés praised last week, saying he didn’t have “the slightest doubt” he would be a good choice to contest the race for the opposition.
“… Mauricio Vila has been a good governor, he’s achieved good results, he’s very well evaluated and part of the strength of the National Action Party is that we will have … good options on the path to 2024,” he said.