The party to which Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador belongs won the governorship of the most populous state in the country, dealing a heavy blow to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, which had governed the State of Mexico without interruption for almost a century.
With more than 99% of polling stations counted in a preliminary report, electoral authorities reported yesterday that Delfina Gómez of the Morena party obtained 52.7% of the votes in the State of Mexico, which borders Mexico City on three sides, against the 44.3% of the votes received by Alejandra del Moral, from the PRI.
Del Moral later gave a speech acknowledging his defeat.
A NEW COUP FOR THE PRI
The result was a new blow to the PRI, which held the presidency of Mexico uninterrupted for 71 years until it lost power in the 2000 elections. The party had ruled the State of Mexico and its 17 million people for 94 years. until his defeat on Sunday.
The PRI managed to maintain the governorship of Coahuila, a sparsely populated state in the north of the country, and governs the neighboring state of Durango in coalition with other opposition parties. But the PRI is now a shadow of the old days, when it ruled Mexico with a combination of handout programs and corruption.
Fueled by López Obrador’s personal popularity — and more generous payments to the elderly and students — Morena now rules 22 of Mexico’s 32 states. The conservative National Action Party, PAN, governs five states; the Green Party, an ally of Morena, governs one, and the small Citizen Movement has two states.
López Obrador said he was happy with the results but struck a magnanimous tone Monday, saying his government would treat governors from all parties fairly.
“We have to attend to all citizens, regardless of the party they are from, it is our responsibility,” said the president.
For her part, Gómez celebrated her victory as the first woman to serve as governor of the State of Mexico.
“This is a victory for working families, this is a victory for women who have fought for years to have our rights recognized,” Gomez said in a victory speech delivered Sunday night. The state has been plagued by a bloody series of murders of women in recent years, and by widespread poverty among female-headed households.
The State of Mexico spans from the suburbs of Mexico City to industrial sprawls and rural communities ravaged by violence, and features staggering extremes of inequality, violence, and corruption.
The contest has also been closely watched for its possible implications for next year’s presidential election. Even without having chosen his candidate yet, Morena is considered the favorite in those national elections and will be even more so with control of the State of Mexico.
The loss of the State of Mexico could mean the end of the PRI’s political relevance on a national scale.
In the State of Mexico, participation was only half of the voters.