López Obrador’s party on track to control opposition stronghold in key Mexico state election

López Obrador's party on track to control opposition stronghold in key Mexico state election

Mexico is holding a vote on Sunday that appears aimed at bolstering President Andrés Manuel López Obrador ahead of the election of his successor next year as his party is expected to capture the last major stronghold of the country’s former rulers.

The president’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) is expected to add leadership in the State of Mexico to the 21 regional governments it already controls, two-thirds of the total.

The State of Mexico, which surrounds the country’s capital and is the most populous entity, has been an important economic and electoral stronghold of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has ruled there since 1929.

López Obrador defeated the PRI to win the presidency in 2018, and Morena has since absorbed most of the once-dominant party’s strongholds, as well as many of its politicians.

Decades of one-party rule have made the PRI synonymous with corruption for many Mexicans, and it has struggled to compete with Morena’s message that it represents a vote for change.

A poll published this week by the newspaper Reforma showed the gubernatorial race has narrowed, but still gives Morena’s candidate Delfina Gómez a 10-point lead over Alejandra del Moral, a PRI politician she leads. an opposing alliance.

“People are leaning towards Delfina because it seems like a new change, like that of López Obrador,” said José Hernández, a 64-year-old merchant in Los Reyes Acaquilpan, a city in the eastern part of the state with 17 million inhabitants. “Because in a nutshell, that whole party (PRI) has been corrupt.”

Gomez vows to give the state a fresh start and improve security, given widespread concern about violence. Del Moral says that the PRI has learned from its mistakes and that his coalition will be a broader alternative to Morena.

The vote takes place a year before the next presidential elections, and the polls indicate that Morena will also be very difficult to defeat then.

In a separate election on Sunday, the PRI is forecast to retain the northern border state of Coahuila, where divisions within Morena produced rival left-wing candidates.

The party of President López Obrador sought this week to consolidate support in Coahuila by pressuring one of its allied parties to decline the candidacy of its own standard-bearer in favor of the morenista.

Race for the Presidency

López Obrador has dominated political life since he took office in December 2018, and his popularity, which is holding steady at around 60%, has helped make Morena a well-oiled electoral machine. Under Mexican law, presidents can only serve a six-year term.

However, his combative style, which has pitted the state against private business and has fueled conflict with other powers, such as the judiciary, has also polarized voters.

López Obrador has frequently criticized some sectors of middle-class voters, and Mexico City and the State of Mexico in 2021 gave Morena unexpected setbacks in local elections.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has held a slight lead in most polls for the race to be Morena’s presidential candidate, closely followed by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

Sheinbaum, like Gómez, the standard bearer for Morena’s State of Mexico, is closely identified with López Obrador and his agenda.

Some analysts argue that if Morena does not capture the State of Mexico, this could lead to the ruling party presenting a more moderate opponent, such as Ebrard.

With a Morena victory being taken for granted for months, a surprise would give the opposition a powerful boost, said Roy Campos, head of polling firm Consulta Mitofsky. “For Morena, losing that state would practically mean starting the contest very badly towards 2024.”

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