By Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – Mexico’s ruling party comfortably captured a key historic opposition stronghold in an election on Sunday, solidifying President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s grip on power ahead of the battle to succeed him next year.
Lopez Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) won the Mexico state government contest by more than 8 percentage points, according to preliminary results released by the state’s electoral institute.
The victory adds Mexico’s most populous region to the 21 other states MORENA already controls, now more than two-thirds of the total. Another state is ruled by a group allied with MORENA, giving the party a huge power base ahead of presidential elections to be held on June 2, 2024.
Sunday’s result also sent Mexico’s former political powerhouse, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), to a new low, marking another milestone in its replacement by MORENA as the No. 1 establishment party. 2 economy.
The centrist PRI has governed the state of Mexico since 1929, when its long rule of Mexico began. Defeated for the presidency in 2000, he bounced back in 2012 but was beaten by Lopez Obrador six years later.
“We have defeated corruption and neglect,” triumphant MORENA candidate Delfina Gomez told cheering supporters after the vote, hailing the PRI’s ouster. “For the first time, we will have a government that serves those who are most vulnerable.”
Gomez, who narrowly lost the previous state election, will be the first female governor of the state of Mexico.
With 98% of the vote from the seats, Gomez had 52.7% of the vote. Her rival, Alejandra del Moral, a PRI politician who heads a coalition of opposition parties, had 44.3%.
However, on Sunday there was also a yellow card for MORENA.
In a separate gubernatorial vote in the northern border state of Coahuila, the PRI squashed MORENA after the president’s party descended into infighting, giving rise to rival candidates. The PRI has yet to be defeated in Coahuila.
The margin of victory in Coahuila, a state with less than a fifth of the population of the state of Mexico, meant that the two main opposition candidates won nearly as many votes as MORENA on Sunday.
Lopez Obrador has instructed his party to stick together ahead of the presidential campaign, turning against former colleagues who have broken with MORENA.
He has dominated Mexican politics since taking office in December 2018 and his popularity, which has hovered around 60%, has helped make MORENA a formidable electoral machine. Under Mexican law, presidents can only serve a six-year term.
However, his abrasive rhetoric, which pitted the state against private enterprise and stoked conflict with controls on its power such as the judiciary, polarized voters.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum had the lead in most polls for the race to be MORENA’s presidential candidate, followed closely by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.
Sheinbaum, like Gomez, is closely identified with Lopez Obrador and his policies, and some analysts say a clear MORENA victory in the state bodes well for his hopes for the presidency.
Soon after the voting ended, Sheinbaum posted a smiling photo of himself with Gomez on Twitter, celebrating his win.
(Reporting by Dave Graham. Editing by Gerry Doyle)