Bloomberg — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s ruling party is projected to win one of the last bastions of opposition power in Sunday’s gubernatorial elections, flipping a governorship that could be an asset before the 2024 presidential election.
Mexico State, home to far more voters than any other, has essentially been controlled by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, for nine decades. Some of the party’s most notable leaders, including former President Enrique Peña Nieto, got their start there.
After suffering a narrow loss to the PRI’s candidate in Mexico State in 2017, former national Education Secretary Delfina Gomez is running again and is projected to be the the first female governor of the State of Mexico, according to exit polls cited by El Financiero. Gomez was leading on Sunday night with a projected percentage of between 57 and 61 percent, El Financiero said after polls closed.
The state’s mix of affluent and working-class neighborhoods often make it a bellwether of how Mexicans might vote in general elections. This year, it’s expected to pick a Morena party leader for the first time.
“The consequences of losing would be catastrophic” for the PRI, said Jorge Buendia, the director of the Buendia & Marquez polling company. The PRI currently controls only three governorships of 32 in total nationwide. Morena controls 20.
In recent years, Morena has slowly collected the governorships of the majority of states, leaving only a handful controlled by other parties.
After suffering a narrow loss to the PRI’s candidate in Mexico State in 2017, former national Education Secretary Delfina Gomez is running again and polling 10 points ahead of Alejandra del Moral, according an Reforma poll published Wednesday.
Other polls have predicted an even bigger margin for Gomez, which if borne out by the results would give the president’s party additional power before the general elections in June 2024. Morena is considered to have a good chance of having its candidate win then.
Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, is ineligible in next year’s contest as the country’s constitution limits presidents to a single term.
“Whoever is on the side of Morena is on the side of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is the motor behind the votes for Morena,” said Juan Carlos Villarreal, a political science professor in Toluca, the state capital.
Nationwide, the peso is stronger than it was before, social program have been enacted, and the minimum wage has been raised so “there’s a certain segment of the population that is satisfied,” he said.
Crime, water shortages, and the scarcity of well-paid jobs will all be important issues in the election, said Nahum de la Puente, an analyst at Ventum Consultores, who has also worked in state government.
Voters will also cast ballots on Sunday for the governorship in the less-populated Coahuila State where the PRI may have a better chance of fending off challengers.
Manolo Jimenez Salinas from the opposition coalition has added to his lead in recent weeks, commanding 49% of voter intentions, well ahead of his Morena opponent, Armando Guadiana, with 31%, according to El Universal’s most recent poll. Exit polls cited by El Financiero also projected Guadiana winning the province’s top role.
Polls opened at 8 a.m. local time and closed at 6 p.m. in both of the states.
--With assistance from Leda Alvim.
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