Mexico’s ruling Morena party risks rupture after the two main candidates in an internal leadership contest exchanged angry accusations that the other is trying to illegitimately take over the movement.© Photographer: OMAR TORRES/AFP The President of the Mexican Low Chamber, Porfirio Munoz Ledo, of the MORENA party, speaks during an interview with AFP next to paintings of Mexican legendary revolutionary fighters Francisco Villa (L) and Emiliano Zapata (R) in Mexico City on April 23, 2019.
Electoral authorities declared last week’s contest between veteran leftist Porfirio Munoz Ledo and the party’s lower house leader Mario Delgado a tie, but Munoz claimed victory over the weekend, saying he would take his seat as Morena president at party offices on Monday. That plan didn’t pan out, with Munoz then writing in a tweet that Delgado’s supporters had taken over the offices “in a violent assault.”
Delgado, meanwhile, said his rival is trying to manipulate the election’s results and that he will wait for a new poll being completed to decide who will lead Morena.
The growing acrimony within the party founded by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador casts doubt over whether Morena can stay together to face key mid-term elections in less than eight months.
“There’s a fifty-fifty chance” the party will split, said Sebastian de Lara, Mexico and Central America Director for Speyside, a policy and communications firm.
Morena currently controls both houses of congress together with its allies, but is struggling to overcome its divisions amid flawed internal party rules. And while Lopez Obrador remains popular among voters, with a recent El Financiero poll showing his approval rating at 62%, he won’t appear on the ballot next year.
The president has repeatedly said he won’t interfere in Morena’s internal affairs, arguing that party officials have to resolve their differences among themselves.
“One thing is Morena and another thing is government,” Lopez Obrador said on Monday about the infighting.
On top of a competition for positions of power, Morena’s months-long leadership clash also represents a battle for the political direction of the party, with Munoz representing hard left positions while Delgado is favored by more pragmatic, technocrat factions.
Munoz, 87, has been on the front line of national politics since the 1970s and was one of the founders of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, known as PRD, which split off from the ruling Party of the Institutional Revolution in 1989. As the PRD dwindled, Munoz and many others followed Lopez Obrador when the president founded Morena in 2011.
Delgado was previously a senator and run Mexico City’s Finance Ministry under Lopez Obrador’s successor for mayor, Marcelo Ebrard.
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