Mexico’s ruling party may have won a bruising electoral battle with its leftist arch-enemy at the weekend, but the narrow victory showed how momentum has swung behind him in the run-up to next year’s presidential race, according to Reuters.
Veteran campaigner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has led early polls for the 2018 vote, and his new National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) came close to seizing the main bastion of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Sunday’s gubernatorial vote in the State of Mexico.
Fielding a little-known former school teacher as candidate, the three-year-old MORENA picked up more votes than the other two main opposition parties combined to lift Lopez Obrador’s hopes of making it third time lucky in his bid for Mexico’s top job.
“We feel strengthened,” Lopez Obrador, who finished in second place in the 2006 and 2012 elections, said on Monday in a video in which he disputed the results of Sunday’s vote. “Because MORENA is the party that’s growing fastest.”
A Lopez Obrador win in 2018 could pitch Mexico onto a more nationalist pathway at a time of diplomatic strains with the United States under President Donald Trump, who has threatened to impose protectionist measures on Mexican industry and stirred up anger with outspoken comments about Mexican migrants.
Though preliminary results showed the PRI victorious in the state, the party’s support base was shattered by MORENA’s emergence. The PRI’s vote share slipped from more than 60 percent in 2011 to just 33.7 percent, while MORENA was projected to win 30.9 percent.
The center-right National Action Party (PAN), which ruled Mexico from 2000 to 2012, picked up just 11.3 percent of the vote, while the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), a group Lopez Obrador once led, won 17.8 percent.
The results showed the vast majority of voters in Mexico’s most populous state wanted the PRI out – but the three-way division of the opposition vote enabled the centrist party to retain control of a state it has governed since 1929.
As united as Mexico’s opposition is in wanting to be rid of the PRI, it remains deeply divided about how to achieve this – in significant part due to Lopez Obrador’s tendency to condemn those who do not support him as stooges of the PRI.
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