Latin America Advisor

A Daily Publication of The Dialogue

What’s at Stake in the Mexico City Mayoral Election?

Picture of Brugada Clara Brugada, the current leader of Mexico City’s Iztapalapa borough, is among the hopefuls in next year’s election for the city’s mayor

At least a dozen candidates from different political parties have announced their intention to run for mayor of Mexico City, with elections to be held next June. Among the hopefuls are Iztapalapa borough leader Clara Brugada, Senator Ricardo Monreal and Morelos state Governor Cuauhtémoc Blanco. What’s at stake for the city, and for the country, in the Mexico City mayoral election? Which candidates are the strongest, and why? Which issues will be the most important to voters?

Omar García-Ponce, assistant professor of political science at The George Washington University: “The forthcoming Mexico City mayoral election, slated for next June, carries immense significance for the entire nation. The mayor of Mexico City is both the chief executive of the capital city and a de facto heir to the country’s presidency. From day one in office, Mexico City mayors become automatic presidential pre-candidates. Two standout pre-candidates from the incumbent left-wing party, Morena, have emerged: Omar García Harfuch, the former secretary of public security for Mexico City, and Clara Brugada, the mayor of Iztapalapa, the city’s largest borough. García Harfuch garnered acclaim for his achievements in curbing violent crime and homicides, issues of paramount importance to voters. He holds a lead over Brugada in the polls, thanks not only due to his track record in bolstering the city’s security but also to his ability to attract a significant portion of voters beyond the traditional Morena base. He is perceived as an outsider, lacking loyalty to Morena, whose trajectory attracts many on the opposition front. In contrast, Brugada’s political journey aligns closely with the traditional left-wing political forces of the city. Her strong support within the Morena ranks and success in Iztapalapa make her a viable candidate, albeit with some challenges in winning over centrist and center-right-leaning voters. Claudia Sheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City and the presidential front-runner from Morena, appears inclined toward endorsing García Harfuch as the party’s candidate. While this decision might seem logical and pragmatic from an electoral perspective, it could strain party unity and ideological cohesion."

Flavia Freidenberg, professor at the Institute for Judicial Investigations at the National Autonomous University of Mexico: “In Mexico City there exists, through the appointment of Claudia Sheinbaum as the Defense Coordinator of the Fourth Transformation, diverse options for the position of mayor. The discussion for succession is intense, in the ruling party and in the opposition equally. The city government is a key bastion within Mexico’s political system and, after the presidency, is the most important election. Even though the country is a federation, this city is the political, cultural and economic center of the country, and its electorate has a defining impact on the presidency. Of all the primary candidates that are being talked about, two have emerged within the mainstream. The current dispute is fundamentally between, on one hand, Clara Brugada, mayor of the very populated Iztapalapa municipality, who comes from social movements and has a good relationship with the most intense factions in Morena, has performed well in local management, especially in relationship to the use of public space and development projects like Utopias, which has moved her closer to the people. On the other hand is aspirant Omar García Harfuch, former security secretary for the city, who has as much support within Morena as he does outside Morena, and who can count on good results in his management of security—a central issue on every local’s agenda—and which would appear to be the candidate that Sheinbaum backs. This is not irrelevant because there has always been the tacit understanding that the president would choose who he or she wants as a colleague in leading the city. Either way, it’s also important to consider the application of gender parity.”

Diego Castañeda, Ph.D. candidate in economic history at Uppsala University: “Next year’s Mexico City mayoral election will be more critical than in recent years since it will have an important role in the presidential election. The two most important contenders for the presidency are inseparably tied to the city. From Morena, Claudia Sheinbaum looks to be a pitch for continuity of AMLO’s project but with a technocratic flavor. On the other hand, Xochitl Gálvez, the candidate of the PRI-PAN-PRD opposition alliance, is a former head of one of the wealthiest demarcations within the city, Miguel Hidalgo. Both candidates will try to sell the results of their administrations, and both will endure strong criticism, for example, over the city’s controversial Covid-19 strategy implemented by Sheinbaum and the real estate corruption accusations targeting PAN politicians, including Gálvez. How the public responds to these two candidates will influence how they react to whomever is perceived as their running mate in the city. From Morena, the strongest candidates are Clara Brugada, of Iztapalapa, and Omar García Harfuch, the police chief during Sheinbaum’s administration. Each of them represents very different groups within Morena’s coalition. Brugada seems to be the party members’ preferred choice, while Harfuch is looking to be the apparent heir of Sheinbaum. For the opposition coalition, it is less clear. In any case, the mayoral election in Mexico City can be expected to be more competitive than the national as since it is more polarized than other parts of the country, and the candidates’ backgrounds for the presidency will focus on the city. Likely, the mayoral election will be more dominated by local rather than national problems, among them, the cost-of-living crisis within Mexico City. Whoever the candidates, the battleground for the opposition will be more critical than for Morena.”

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