The pieces just continue to line up for Marcelo Ebrard. Mexico City’s mayor this week was awarded the World Mayor Prize for 2010 by self-described urban affairs think tank The City Mayors Foundation. According to the organization’s web site, the prize is intended to “honour those who have made long-lasting contributions to their communities and are committed to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally.” The honor, which we suspect did not take Ebrard by surprise, comes directly on the heels of his hosting of the Local and Regional Leaders World Summit 2010 in Mexico City and participation in the 16th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP16) in Cancun.
This latest coup by Mr. Ebrard is yet another click in the ratcheting up of his long-running stealth campaign to run for president of Mexico in 2012, which we commented on in a recent post. That same clicking sound may have been heard again recently with another political development: the selection of Senator Gustavo Madero as the new leader of the ruling National Action Party (PAN). What could a dodgy internal election in the bible-thumpers’ party have to do with the aspirations of Mexico City’s gay-loving, tree-hugging leftist mayor? The answer may be lurking between the lines of Senator Madero’s comments shortly after tying up his bid for PAN leadership. Calling the currently favored PRI’s belief they will win back the presidency in 2012 a ‘wild fantasy’, Madero reiterated his support for anti-PRI electoral alliances with other parties – such as Mr. Ebrard’s PRD.
With about 18 months to go before the election, there’s still ample time for various pre-candidates’ stars to rise and fall. But right now the PAN has no visibly attractive candidate to speak of, and they’ll be coming off one of the most dreadful six-year periods in the country’s modern history. If the election were held today, the running of any candidate other than Ebrard by a viciously divided PRD would be patently suicidal, particularly assuming Andrés Manuel López Obrador runs independently as a leftist coalition candidate. Under this scenario, a hypothetical joint PAN-PRD ticket headed by Ebrard would provide the PAN with that rarest of birds, a seemingly responsible, business-friendly “leftist” candidate, while the PRD would presumably pick up the support of enough PAN voters to offset the loss of López Obrador’s diehard following. Still, probably not enough to overtake the PRI and their nefarious tele-bot candidate, State of Mexico Governor Enrique Peña Nieto.
Ebrard, who rose to the capital’s mayoralty on the coattails of previous mayor López Obrador, heretofore has appeared to be discarding his former boss like a crusty snot rag. But what if Ebrard, the ever canny and pragmatic crocodile, were to cut a back-room deal with the wacky tropical messiah by offering him (the horror, the horror) a key ministerial portfolio in exchange for López Obrador turning over his bloc of voters to the coalition? It would have to be a pretty sweet deal for López Obrador to have anything to do with the PAN, but the ironclad principles of all parties involved have proved to be malleable when expediency has dictated in the past.
It’s a stretch, and the very idea of López Obrador ever holding any public office again in Mexico makes our blood run cold. But if the PAN and PRD each field independent candidates and López Obrador runs on the PT-Convergencia ticket, they might as well just spend their campaign funds on hookers and blow now. And Marcelo Ebrard isn’t one to let some silly quibble over party affiliations muck up what will likely be his only shot at the presidency.