MEXICO: In a significant departure from decades of single-party dominance, Mexico’s most populous state has chosen to forge ahead with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s ruling Morena party, ousting the long-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Preliminary forecasts from electoral authorities on Sunday night pointed to a victory for Delfina Gómez in the State of Mexico, a result later confirmed by Alejandra del Moral’s concession speech. Official ballot counting continued throughout the night.
The outcome dealt a severe blow to the PRI, which held uninterrupted power in the country for 71 years until 2000 and had long governed the State of Mexico. A representative sample of voting stations, just hours after polls closed, indicated that Gómez was poised to secure between 52.1% and 54.2% of the ballots, while del Moral garnered 43% to 45.2%, according to the National Electoral Institute.
The sampling forecast carried at least 95% certainty. By midnight, with more than half of the ballots counted, the margin remained steady.
Addressing her jubilant supporters in the state capital of Toluca late Sunday night, Gómez declared, “There will be a different style of governance.” The future governor, the first woman to hold the position, emphasized her dedication to addressing the concerns of the mothers of missing persons and victims of femicide and urged the public to denounce corruption.
Although the PRI-led coalition managed to retain the governorship in the sparsely populated northern border state of Coahuila, with 80% of ballots counted, PRI coalition candidate Manolo Jiménez maintained a 35-point lead over the Morena challenger.
Losing control of the State of Mexico dealt a severe blow to the PRI’s political fortunes. The closely watched election held potential implications for the upcoming presidential race in 2024. Morena, even without a selected nominee, is currently considered the frontrunner in the national election and will strengthen its position with control of the State of Mexico.
The State of Mexico, encompassing urban sprawl, rural ranches, and pervasive inequality, violence, and corruption, borders Mexico City on three sides. It has long been a stronghold of the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
Political scientist Georgina de la Fuente of the Tecnologico de Monterrey University observed that Sunday’s results highlight several key factors: the PRI has suffered a defeat, albeit not as resounding as expected; Morena is not impervious to defeat; and parties will need to reassess their agreements. She also noted that the smooth elections affirmed the effectiveness of Mexico’s electoral system, which had faced criticism from President López Obrador.
The loss of the State of Mexico could potentially signify the end of the PRI’s political relevance on a national scale, marking a remarkable reversal for a party that governed Mexico uninterrupted for seven decades.
Turnout in the State of Mexico was only approximately half of the eligible voters.
“It doesn’t seem like the elections have excited the people,” remarked Miguel Agustín López Moreno, a political scientist and social worker in Ecatepec, one of the state’s largest municipalities. He expressed uncertainty about whether the situation for residents would significantly change, attributing the PRI’s success largely to the substantial resources invested in the state.