Latin America Advisor

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What Accounts for Morena’s Win in the State of Mexico?

Photo of Delfina Gómez Delfina Gómez, the candidate of Mexico’s ruling Morena party, on Sunday won the governorship of Mexico state, the country’s most populous state. // Photo: Facebook Page of Delfina Gómez.

The Morena party of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the governorship of Mexico state, the country’s most populous, in Sunday’s election. The victory of the party’s candidate, Delfina Gómez, will put an end to 94 years of uninterrupted rule of the state by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The once-dominant PRI is now left with just two governor’s offices—Coahuila, where the PRI candidate won on Sunday, and Durango. What were the biggest surprises to come out of the vote, and significant of a win was it for Morena? What factors explain the results?

Lila Abed, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center: “President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) political party, Morena, won the elections in the State of Mexico, snatching control of the most populous entity from the PRI, which had ruled the state since 1929. Morena’s candidate, Delfina Gómez, will be the first woman to govern the state. Her win extended the governing party’s control to 23 states, leaving the opposition with only nine governorships. Morena’s triumph not only demonstrates its continuous expansion of power throughout the country as it only controlled seven states when AMLO began his term, but also boosted its momentum ahead of the 2024 presidential election. Traditionally, the winner of the State of Mexico has served as an indicator of which political party is most likely to win the presidency. The slow demise of the PRI culminated with the loss of the State of Mexico this past weekend, despite having won Coahuila. The State of Mexico represents more than 12.5 million registered voters and is an economic and electoral powerhouse, while Coahuila and its roughly 2.5 million voters is less politically relevant. Mexican citizens have called for real change, which has largely translated into a rejection of the corrupt practices used by traditional political parties in the past. The underlying question is whether Morena’s strong grip of power will negatively impact the future of Mexico’s democracy. While it is evident that many voters desire a change, ironically, Morena’s near hegemonic control over the country resembles, in many ways, the former single-party rule of the PRI.”

Arantza Alonso, senior analyst for the Americas at Verisk Maplecroft: “With more than 12.6 million voters—around 15 percent the country’s total electorate—the populous State of Mexico is of major significance because of its size and economic importance (and proximity to Mexico City), which make it extremely attractive to political parties and a bellwether in national elections. The relatively comfortable victory of Delfina Gómez of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party and its allies–the Green Party (PVEM) and the Labor Party (PT)–means the coalition will govern more than 70 percent of Mexico’s territory ahead of the June 2024 general election. This will provide Morena with more tools and resources in the run-up to the polls–a worrisome prospect for the opposition, which has not been able to unite behind one clear leader. The ‘Va por México’ coalition–comprised of the PRI, the almost-defunct Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), and the right-wing National Action Party (PAN)–will need to redress the tainted PRI brand in most states. Polls indicated that Gómez’s rival, Alejandra del Moral, was seen as a good candidate, but the PRI brand rendered her unelectable. However, not everything is lost for the opposition. The results in Coahuila point to some weaknesses in the Morena-led alliance. Its inability to unite clearly split the vote, giving the ‘Va por Mexico’ coalition a landslide victory (and much-needed hope).”

Nicolás Mariscal, member of the Advisor board and chairman of Grupo Marhnos in Mexico City: “The electoral results in the states of Mexico and Coahuila were to be expected. On the one hand, Morena had a resounding victory in the State of Mexico, with a 10-point advantage over its nearest competitor. On the other hand, the PRI had a decisive victory in the northern state of Coahuila, the last to be uninterruptedly governed by the party. Although both elections are important, the State of Mexico’s is especially significant. First, it has the largest population, with 17 million inhabitants. Second, it represents one of the biggest economies at the state level, at $125 billion. And third, it has the largest number of registered voters, with 13 percent of the national population. What is worrying is that more than 40 percent of registered voters did not vote in either state. This speaks of apathy among the population, which is never a good sign. All public entities—government, political parties, electoral institutions and civil society organizations—must do more to promote the vote. The 2024 presidential elections promise to be interesting. Let us hope that Mexican citizens get more involved, candidates deliver good debates and political parties provide good public policy solutions. This is in the interest of all, and of the country’s democracy.” 

Rosario Aguilar, senior lecturer in comparative politics at Newcastle University: “In both Mexico state (Edomex) and Coahuila, the PRI had governed since 1929. The results show the strengths and weaknesses of the political parties. The president’s party, Morena, won in the Edomex while the PRI and its allies won in Coahuila. Edomex will have its first female governor, winning between 52 and 54 percent of the votes, while in Coahuila the PRI advantage over Morena is over 30 percent. These results do not represent equal parties, but they show that Morena is the strongest party as it was able to take control of the PRI’s party machine in Edomex. The characteristics of the Edomex are more similar to those of the country than the characteristics of Coahuila, in terms of economic inequality and poverty. It also has the largest number of voters in the country (13 percent of the national electorate). The competitive parties in Edomex used to be the PRI and left-wing parties (such as PRD or Morena), while in Coahuila the main opposition to the PRI came from the right, the PAN. A majority of citizens who reported benefiting from federal social programs in exit polls in Coahuila voted for the PRI, not Morena, in contrast to the behavior of recipients of social programs in Edomex. These results show a strong Morena for the 2024 presidential election based on the characteristics of the country and the party’s political strength (Morena and its allies govern in 23 of Mexico’s 32 states).” 


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