Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s political party, MORENA, further consolidated its power after winning four of six gubernatorial races on Sunday. The left-wing party now has governors in 20 of Mexico’s 32 states.
Elections were held in Aguascalientes, Durango, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Tamaulipas, and MORENA’s candidates edged out opponents in every state except Aguascalientes and Durango, strongholds of more traditional Mexican parties such as than the PRI and the PAN. .
Prior to Sunday’s election, none of the contested states had MORENA-affiliated governors; a sign of the growing popularity of President López Obrador’s party in some parts of the country.
In states like Oaxaca and Tamaulipas, the MORENA candidates narrowly outstripped their political opposition made up of a PAN-PRI-PRD coalition. Oaxaca recorded the lowest turnout with 38% citizen participation.
Opposition leaders have seized on the low voter turnout, saying it is a signal that opposition members can woo disillusioned voters and challenge MORENA’s political power.
Alejandro Moreno and Marko Cortéz, leaders of the PRI and PAN parties respectively, hailed the election results while accusing MORENA of illegal and authoritarian practices to undermine the elections.
The two politicians mistakenly celebrated their victory in Tamaulipas, where Américo Villarreal Anaya de MORENA and an allied party won the opposition by a narrow margin of 5%.
MORENA’s rise began in 2018 when Mr. López Obrador won the presidency and members of his party won a majority in both houses of Congress.
Since then, Mr. López Obrador’s party has managed to win 20 state governorships in just four years. According to the president of the MORENA party, Mario Delgado, after the 2022 elections, the party now governs states where more than 73 million Mexicans live, almost 60% of the country’s population.
Last year, MORENA enjoyed similar success winning 11 of the 15 contested governorships in the elections.
In Congress, MORENA still holds a relative majority in both chambers, with 40% in the lower house and 47.6% in the Senate, holding an advantage over the opposition parties.
Addressing the election result, Mr. López Obrador said the problem came from within the opposition, which has distanced itself from the Mexican people.
“One of their problems is that they believe people are stupid, that they can be manipulated,” the president said. They have no respect for people and no love for people, they feel superior.
Mexico will hold two more gubernatorial elections in 2023, ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.