By RICARDO CASTILLO
In the eyes of some pundits, the current trend in Mexican elections is the result of a democratic procedure, but for others, the imminent results of the country’s midterm elections on Sunday, June 5, is an ominous path to a return of a one-party system.
If all current forecasts are correct, the “awesome threesome” political coalition composed of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), the centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the fading leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) will most certainly lose four out of the six elections for governor, namely, in Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Tamaulipas. The alliance has some chances of retaining Aguascalientes and Durango.
The result will be that the majority leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party is, election-after-election, creeping into the once-impenetrable domain of the mighty three parties. Morena currently governs – in some cases alone and in others through coalitions – 18 out of 32 states.
But come Monday, June 6, Morena could boast 22 – or even 23, some claim – state governorships. If that’s not a majority, then nothing is.
But that’s not all. The Mexican political system is designed to have elections on a yearly basis and the current six-year term cycle will close with elections in two more states, that is, Coahuila and the State of Mexico, both still governed by the PRI. Current polls indicate that Morena will win the State of Mexico, and the PRI will continue to reign in Coahuila. This prediction is not a far-fetched one.
The forecast of a future one-party system deeply affects all three members of the “It Goes for Mexico” PAN-PRI-PRD coalition, as they keep on losing territory that may be impossible to regain.
The National Regeneration Movement was registered as a political front – not as a political party – in 2014, merely eight years ago. The movement participated in the 2015 midterm elections and the 2018 presidential ones, where led by its founding father, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), won the presidency with a landslide victory.
The PAN, the PRI and the PRD came in second, third and fourth, respectively, in that election. The PAN had 24 percent of the vote, PRI came in with 16 percent and PRD with a little over 3 percent, just enough to keep its party registration before the elections organizer National Electoral Institute (INE).
But in all this there was light at the end of the tunnel of the three parties: Though minorities in both houses of Congress, they manage to boast enough votes to stop dead cold any bill Morena or AMLO may send their way, just the way they did with the president’s controversial Electrical Reform Bill, which would have prioritized state-run, carbon-based power sources over privately owned clean alternatives.
The defeat of the bill left the three parties with a sense of renewed influence, and a fourth but private force stepped in to forge an even stronger alliance with them. It was headed by business leaders Claudio X. Gonzalez and Gustavo A. De Hoyos Walther, both sworn political foes of AMLO. Over the past two years, both have financially supported the It Goes for Mexico coalition and continue to do so because their objective is to beat Morena during the still-two-years-away 2024 presidential elections.
But how will Claudio X and De Hoyos react if the alliance is defeated in Sunday’s elections? Will they drop out? One thing the business leaders discovered is that the three parties represent three very different ideologies and definitely are totally unlikely ideological partners. What keeps them together is, one, their own bona fide ground gained in past elections, and two, their avowed opposition to Morena and all it stands for.
Definitely all participating parties in the upcoming election (there is a total of seven registered with INE) will be waiting for next Monday’s results to plan their next moves. Very much in question is the continued coalition of the PAN-PRI-PRD.
On their own, the PAN is planning to made the most of the five states it will retain and the PRI is working to hold its grip in Coahuila and State of Mexico, all while its current leader, Alejandro Moreno Cárdenas, is fighting to salvage his presidency. Will he continue to be PRI president? Good question, because in his three years as leader, the PRI will have lost 12 governorships, nothing to brag about. And, of course, gone will be his hopes of being the PRI’s presidential candidate in 2024.
The INE’s official exit polls will be made public close to midnight on Sunday, and the victories will be ratified next Wednesday, June 8. Morena is likely to come out the victory, with a majority of Mexico’s governorships: But then a new race will start, and that will determine which party will have the majority in Congress.
If Morena does win that race, Mexico will have returned to a one-party system, be it for better or for worse.