Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: presdencia.gob.mx

By RICARDO CASTILLO

News that Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won the internal elections (congress and municipalities, respectively) in the states of Coahuila and Hidalgo on Sunday, Oct. 18, came as no surprise. But those valid victories do not merit all the crowing that PRI President Alejandro “Alito“ Moreno is making over it. Alito is trying to make the win look like the once-almighty PRI is back, but the reality is nothing further from the truth.

The PRI’s victory is more one of a Hail Mary survival move before the next electoral tide hits in the now-underway 2021 midterm elections. For sure, the days of current glory will soon fade away, since not all that shines, particularly in Mexican politics, is gold.

PRI’s Coahuila-Hidalgo victory was forecast mostly because these two states remain the last bastions of the party organization. This includes the fact that Alito’s secretary general at the PRI, Carolina Viggiano Austria, a Hidalgo-born politician, is also the wife of Coahuila Senator and former Governor Rubén Moreira Valdéz.

And Alito and Carolina were fully supported by PRI Coahuila and Hidalgo Governors Miguel Ángel Riquelme and Omar Fayad, respectively, in the electoral effort made from Mexico City, from where the last dregs of the PRI operated the elections.

And that’s not all, folks!

According to National Regeneration Movement (Morena) Coahuila Senator Armando Guadiana and Federal Deputy Melba Farías, their efforts to compete against the better-organized PRI candidates was pigeon-holed both by outgoing Morena President Alfonso Ramírez Cuellar and Coahuila state political operators and sisters Moroslava and Hortensia Sánchez Galván.

Guadiana went as far to say that “losing is tough, but it is even tougher to lose when betrayal comes from within your own party,” in specific reference to Coahuila party leaders Miroslava and Hortensia.

Guadiana’s “ouch” is not unwarranted, if you take into consideration the fact that PRI swept the 16 districts in contention to gain full control of the state congress. The PRI received nearly 40 percent to the total vote, when in the 2018 presidential election it received 25 percent against Morena’s nearly 49 percent.

In Hidalgo, the PRI won 32 of the 38 municipalities at stake, while Morena, which also in 2018 won by 52 percent of the ballots, only obtained six municipalities.

About the only good news for Morena in these state elections is that the party finished in second place, if that is any consolation.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) on Monday, Oct. 19, observed that the victory is not for the PRI alone.

“It is a victory for democracy if people participate and there are clean elections, no matter who wins,” he said.

Nonetheless, the PRI victory shows that “the dyno” is not dead, but will it be able to compete against Morena in the midterms?

The answer to this question lies in the outcome of the internal Morena election now underway between Deputies Porfirio Muñoz Ledo and Mario Delgado. The winner will be in charge of leading the party into the midterms, in which, even after the Coahuila-Hidalgo defeat, it is seen as the favorite to carry the majority of over the 2,000 posts at stake, but only if the party has a good organizing president.

Otherwise, for Morena, the bad news may be that the PRI is alive and kicking … even if it is only in two states, for now.

…Oct. 20, 2020

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