The National Regeneration Movement (Morena) has conquered this Sunday the governorship of four of the six Mexican states called to renew their administration, thus expanding their territorial power and reaping the umpteenth victory in seven years of electoral contests. The result of the quick calculation released by the National Electoral Institute (INE) as of nine at night coincides with the most prudent expectations of the leaders of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party, which already controls 18 seats and now adds to its wins Quintana Roo, Oaxaca, Hidalgo and Tamaulipas. If these data certify its projection as the dominant force on the political map, they also demonstrate a certain resistance capacity of the opposition, which according to the INE wins comfortably in Aguascalientes and Durango.
Mario Delgado, national leader of the ruling party, boasted of the victory using one of the arguments that backbone the campaign. “This is the sanction that the people of Mexico have imposed on those who betrayed our country by voting against the electricity reform. This is democracy; let our differences be settled at the polls”, he stated. Delgado and the party’s leadership formalized last Tuesday before the Prosecutor’s Office a complaint for “treason against the country” against the legislators who rejected one of López Obrador’s star projects. He also insinuated, before knowing the results, legal action against the opposition coalition Va por México in the two states where Morena failed to prevail.
In Durango, the two blocks declared themselves winners using their own measurements, which led the electoral authority to ask them for restraint. “We are ahead in five governorships and in one we are still in the fight. It is a historic day for the Obrador movement and people continue to confirm with their vote that it is an honor to be with Obrador”, Delgado had ventured before settling: “Morena is at her best moment”. Finally, the quick count of the INE gave the opposition an advantage of more than points.
But aside from the dispute over the result of Durango, López Obrador has achieved a new success, since his movement was until today opposition in the six states. In other words, the president, at the center of the country’s public conversation and with a popularity that exceeds 60% according to most opinion polls, is resisting wear and tear and, for the moment, he does not have any leader with the capacity to to shade it. As observed by Francisco Abundis, director of the Parametria consulting firm, at the beginning of this electoral process, voters identified more with the party, which ultimately indicates affinity with the president’s project, although local candidates gradually took flight.
In Hidalgo, a bastion of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for almost a century, Morena has swept away with a difference of more than 30 points. Former Senator Julio Menchaca has obtained 61.8% of the votes, according to the average of the quick count data, compared to 31.3% for Carolina Viggiano, PRI Secretary General. In Tamaulipas, until today governed by the PAN Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, investigated for tax fraud, the ruling party has obtained a tighter victory with Américo Villarreal. The also former senator prevails with an average of 51.1% compared to 43.25% of his opponent, César Augusto Verástegui.
To these especially symbolic victories are added two other triumphs with an overwhelming margin. In Oaxaca, Salomón Jara achieved 59.7%, almost 35 points above the second, Alejandro Avilés, who was running for the PRI and PRD alliance. The gap is even deeper in Quintana Roo, the tourist jewel of Mexico, where the brunette Mara Lezama has swept 56.7%, about 40% more than her opponent. These data are explained, in part, by the breakdown of the opposition alliance in both states, which has had an inevitable effect of fragmentation of the vote.
In any case, the priority for Morena was to gain positions with a view to the presidential elections of 2024. Together with its allies, it will control, when the new governors take office, 22 of the 32 federal entities or States of the country. And in 2023 he will also seek to take over two other key territories, whose elections are scheduled for just within a year: the State of Mexico and Coahuila. The control of the map is decisive for the mobilization of the bases and for the domain of the discourse. That is also why the last few weeks were so important for the main candidates to succeed López Obrador at the end of his six-year term.
The campaign of these state elections was a comfortable setting to measure support and promote a national image. The president’s favorite candidates did it, from the head of the Government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, through the Secretary of the Interior, Adán Augusto López, or the president of the Political Coordination Board of the Senate and head of the Morena caucus, Ricardo Monreal. The only one to speak out this Sunday night through social networks was the latter. The veteran legislator, who last week predicted in a conversation with EL PAÍS a victory for Morena in five of the six states, congratulated the winners and recognized the efforts of the candidates in Durango and Aguascalientes. “We hope results will be clarified,” he wrote.
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