It is easy to meet Antonio Sola anywhere in the world where there are elections. After 450 electoral campaigns, Sola, born in Terrassa (Spain) in 1972, is one of the most prestigious electoral consultants. In recent decades he has advised several African leaders, the Republicans in the United States, the Popular Party in Spain and, at some point, almost all the presidents of Latin America have passed through his hands. In Mexico, he worked with Felipe Calderón but he has also done it in governorships and mayors of the PRI or Morena, the formation of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
During the duration of a campaign, he becomes the man who whispers to the candidate until he takes him to the Presidency. For Sola, the publication of the videos of the former director of Pemex Emilio Lozoya that point to Enrique Peña Nieto and the main opposition party, the PAN, as well as the images of López Obrador’s brother receiving money, show the agony of a model that he helped sell himself, he says in a telephone interview from Ecuador.
Question. How do you see the role of the group of technocratic politicians who came to modernize everything and ended up involved in controversy?
Reply. Unfortunately for Mexico, Peña Nieto’s six-year term has been portrayed. The great opportunity now is to give birth to that new generation, not of age but of understanding, that pushes the need to change the political system of our countries. Every day it is seen more clearly that the intermediation between the citizen and the institutions has failed. Deputies, municipal presidents, secretaries, delegates … are holding back decision-making. In today’s world, to make a transfer at the bank you don’t need the man at the window and to talk to God you don’t need a priest. Therefore, to do politics, political intermediation as it is conceived is no longer valid.
P. What impact does the appearance of videos like these have on voters? That we already knew, that they are all the same?
R. We cannot get used to the appearance of videos that put a face to the corruption that one imagines. It must be given all the importance, not only because of the wear and tear they suppose for the system but because they hide the beginning of the end of the old model and the emergence of a new way of doing politics. Peña Nieto or López Obrador, like Trump or Bolsonaro, are the transition between the old politics that is dying out and a new model.
P. You have helped to make presidents to people who later did not turn out what they promised.
R. We have created monsters of the image that ended up not responding to the identity of themselves or of the people who voted for them. For years, from the marketing industry we have created products based on image and that, today, is a communicative farce that is out of print. It was useful and served for years for the political marketing industry but today it is necessary to build an identity, which for many years was forgotten.
P. Does she say it because she has grown up or because the world has changed?
R. I have changed but the world around us is also changing. Today politicians are not addressing a people but an audience, and that implies relying more on technology. Neither is the intelligence of a candidate or individual hyper-leadership enough, but it is necessary to rely on the collective. And thirdly, whoever aspires to convince cannot appeal to the ‘popular vote’ but to the ‘brain vote’. Those three things doom the old politics, which relies on middlemen, to its death in the next 20 years.
P. Is it possible to see what they will become afterwards? I am thinking of Otto Pérez Molina, former president of Guatemala, for example.
R. Sometimes it is sensed. Leaders who come to power do so with their burden of virtues and defects. The defects are hidden during the campaign but once in power there is usually no control of the low passions and the most negative aspects become gigantic.
P. Everything starts from the campaign.
R. The policy is funded by the corporate world in any country. The problem is not making all this transparent. Detail each dollar and define its origin and quantity. Because the financial power or the construction companies will always try to influence and a good solution is to do all that clearly and publicly. Ending corruption is impossible the moment human beings appear, but it is about putting their vices within a margin of tolerance admitted by a community. If in a community you have alcoholism or drugs outside the tolerance limits, you have a problem. The US campaign finance model is not the best, but it is the least bad.
P. Who are the brokerage?
R. The intermediation is the politician, the figure that acts between the vote and the law. In Spain, for example, President Pedro Sánchez endorsed during confinement that families could go with children to the supermarket, one of the places with the greatest possibility of contagion. After the social pressure that was generated in the networks, he ended up backtracking. I could have avoided that with a digital query. It is the politics of the referendum taken to the extreme. López Obrador, a smart guy, has proposed something similar to ‘citizen consultations’, but aimed at manipulation.
P. What will that new model be like?
R. In the next 20 years several things will happen. The current democracy is going to mutate to a more direct digital democracy. A new relationship between countries is accentuated because no one can do it alone. Every day financial margins are lower and more technology is shared at zero cost. I am convinced that a more supportive and collaborative economy will emerge. The protagonists of this new model are a generation that today is between 0 and 15 years old, that has incorporated a fourth brain level, where technology is 100% part of their lives and that incorporates a global vision that understands the planet as something of its own. important than your country. In parallel we are going to see the supremacy of female leadership. Every day there will be more women ruling because societies demand values that are associated with the feminine. The political change in the coming years will be the emergence of resilient leaderships.
P. You speak of a new, more technological democracy, but not even the digital ballot box has been able to prosper
R. It’s the same reason why electric cars don’t prosper as fast as they should or why we continue to abuse oil. Why doesn’t the political class promote the electronic ballot box? Because they cover each other. It is not normal that to vote abroad you have to receive the ballot and then go to an embassy. It’s about something I can do with a cell phone. There is no political will to promote these changes.
P. The fight against corruption requires justice that is up to the task.
R. Justice is bought in most of our countries, whether they are developed or not. It is mediated and is the pending subject.
P. How is it possible that a single company like Odebrecht has bought 11 governments and more than 1,000 officials in Latin America. Is it the United Fruit Company of the 21st century?
R. There is a root problem in the values and in the education we receive. We cannot continue to receive the same model in which our parents and grandparents were raised. It is not about memorizing the rivers, the capitals of the world or learning to make square roots. Nobody teaches in schools to handle power or the relationship with the public. Or how to exercise solidarity.