Three of our five dailies front the first announced candidate for the next president of Mexico, who happens to be the former first lady during the Felipe Calderón administration (2006-20012). Reforma’s headline: “Margarita Zavala uncovers herself for 2018.”
That’s not as risqué as it sounds. Destapar really does mean “uncover,” which was the verb of choice for how 20th-century presidents revealed their chosen successor during the PRI’s perfect dictatorship. Those days are gone, but the verb remains, shifted to the reflexive.
Zavala of course has some advantages by virtue of her marriage, but that’s not all she’s about. The two met as young National Action Party (PAN) militants more or less on even footing, and she served in the Chamber of Deputies before Calderón assumed the presidency.
That said, her announcement on Sunday, via YouTube, is a little weird. For one thing, it came just a week after the Sunday midterm, and a full three years before the presidential election. What’s the rush?
The short answer is that it was her way of sticking it to her rivals within the PAN. Margarita and Felipe last year backed a sympathetic candidate for the party leadership against the faction led by Gustavo Madero, who’s assumed to have presidential aspirations of his own, though he denies it.
(His latest denial emphasized vehemence over credibility. When asked if he wanted to run for president of Mexico, he replied, “No me chinguen.” Try Google translate.)
The Calderón/Zavala faction lost that battle, and Margarita was soon punished by being denied a PAN candidacy for a return to the Chamber of Deputies. She responded by threatening to run for the party presidency next time around, but decided to run for president instead.
Her pre-emptive announcement was clearly her way of telling the party leaders that she has no intention of letting them decide her fate. She’s out there on her own now, and her game plan seems to be to accumulate enough support to force her nomination. She certainly has enough time to do it.