calculation and chance – Future Education

calculation and chance – Future Education
calculation and chance – Future Education

Officials: calculation and chance

Adrian Acosta Silva

One of the first tasks of those who win elections is the appointment of public officials. After the campaigns, tours, debates, the call to the polls and other concoctions of the electoral process, the elected leaders have to define who they should invite to form part of their cabinet, which are the most suitable profiles, those who can guarantee technical efficiency, public prestige and political loyalty. And that is never an easy task. Although it is part of institutional routines, the appointment of government officials is a complex process, subject to pressures, restrictions and recognitions, or payments, of loyalties proven in the remote or recent past.

These decisions are part of the architecture that can make the transition from a democratically elected government to a legitimate and efficient government work. It is not only an administrative, bureaucratic matter, but is also part of real politics, which implies articulating illusions and campaign promises with public policies and programs. Here, politics once again goes hand in hand with future policies and with the politicians who actually exist. The struggle for posts and positions of the triumphant coalitions becomes the main fuel of the internal tensions of these groups and their leaders, who claim or negotiate spaces of government to increase their power and influence in government decisions.

Politics is always a matter of groups, tribes and parties that win elections. Passions, ideas and interests inhabit the deep, sometimes muddy waters of politics and its protagonists. In presidential regimes like Mexico’s, the strength of the presidency is directly proportional to the size of its support and political commitments, and that strength, first won at the polls, will translate into power and governing capabilities. But it also depends on the political, informational, cognitive or budgetary restrictions of the new government. During the Mexican post-electoral period, President-elect Sheinbaum faces the task of calming the waters of political passions while sending signals of calm to the financial markets, and the appointment of the first officials of her cabinet constitutes an act that symbolically closes the Obrador administration and announces the beginning of her own period of government.

The first decisions have already been made and a handful of public officials have been announced by the president herself. It is a mix of experienced profiles, many with technical skills and proven loyalties, who have worked in the past with the president herself during her term as head of government of Mexico City or with the Obradorist government. These officials represent trajectories, interests and orientations that coincide with the general idea of ​​the government promoted by Sheinbaum: committed to the 4T project, convinced of the need to consolidate and expand the programs initiated by the Obradorist government, capable of introducing adjustments where necessary to provide greater strength and depth to a government with enormous popular support and a political opposition weakened by a combination of presidential interventionism, a political culture governed by dependence on social programs, and its own errors in calculation and electoral operation.

The calendars and clocks of politics will determine, as always, the movements and practical orientations of the new government. The new secretariat of science, humanities, technology and innovation that will replace the Conahcytor the still pending appointment of who will take charge of the SEP are, in the case of higher education, key signs to understand what will or may be the direction of these fields of public policy, where controversy and questioning by the communities involved have permanently characterized the management of those responsible for leading federal policies in their respective areas of competence during the six-year term that is ending.

Of course, names matter, but more so are the specific diagnoses that have already begun to be drawn up for the creation of federal policies that will be designed and implemented for the period 2024-2030. The policy agenda is the focus that concentrates the attention of the actors and spectators of each policy field, and in the coming weeks the new heads of the different areas of government will have to present their proposals to the president to assess their technical viability, political opportunity and budgetary feasibility.

In a context riddled with ideological, regulatory, political and financial restrictions and flaws inherited from the Obrador administration, the new government must quickly learn to establish its own profile and priorities. The public officials who will formally begin their administrations in October are already lobbying for support, putting together work teams, and evaluating the first actions in their respective areas of responsibility. It is time to govern, to turn the page on the previous government, and draw the lines of its own future. It is a delicate moment, key to defining the governing map of a territory outlined by an officialism with autocratic tendencies that can dominate a confused and weakened opposition without major legislative or judicial setbacks.

In a context marked by the threats of a Trumpist comeback, the expansion of the wave of European far-right movements, or the phenomenon of Argentine millenarianism, calculation and chance dominate the international panorama of the new Morena government. It is a risky situation that recalls the words of Karl Kraus referring to Europe in 1917: “There are no longer crossbows or tyrants; there are only technology and bureaucrats (….) Autocracy as a technical term: okay, it could be. A thing that does not govern alone, but by itself, mechanically. And everyone is driven by the empty word of a sovereign called chance, which is the one who governs the quantity.”

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