By JUAN DE JESÚS BREENE
The Mexican presidential race is still two years out, but the gubernatorial races on Sunday, June 5, put the handwriting on the wall, with some pretty indelible ink.
In Sunday’s six-state vote, four were won by coalitions of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party, and two by coalitions of the opposition parties.
Even though two additional states will have elections next year, what this means going into the 2024 presidential election, as of today: 66 percent of Mexico’s states are controlled by Morena and only 44 percent by the opposition.
Midterm and non-presidential elections typically have poor turnout, as was the case on Sunday.
Even in the 2018 federal elections, which put current Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) into office, only 62 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, considered extraordinarily high for modern times.
In Sunday’s elections, the average registered voter turnout was just 46 percent for the six states, and in Oaxaca, one of the poorest states in the country, it was just 38.6 percent.
Yet about a third of the country could not be bothered. In non-presidential cycles and for ballot referendums, that number can dip as low as the mid-20 percent.
How democratic is a country where so few vote?
Morena knows this reality far too well, and uses a simple formula in its favor: The party knows who will vote.
Who does vote? Seniors and those easily cajoled, propositioned, intimidated, influenced and, to put it bluntly, bribed.
AMLO and his cronies have the maneuvering of the Mexican electorate almost down to a science.
It may be hard for those who have not been in Mexico for a long time to understand, but this is a strong part of his political formula.
AMLO has created a character with which Mexicans who live in and know poverty can identify.
His platform does not seek to improve the standard of living of impoverished Mexicans, but instead to drag everyone down to that level. (According to the government’s own figures, since AMLO took office in December 2018, there has been a 14 percent rise in the number of Mexicans living below the poverty line.)
Rather than promote a reduction of poverty, the López Obrador administration has attempted to destroy or demonize anything in the way of financial progress.
It promotes an antiquated ideology that those who do not financially contribute to the tax base should simultaneously get things for free, while blaming those members of Mexican society who are productive for being responsible for the underdog’s misery.
In a nutshell, AMLO represents Mexican mediocrity at its finest, and it is those who strive to replicate his mediocracy who worship him.
Quite a winning combo!
Of course, these loyalists will want to vote for his Morena party, independent of its ties to out-of-control violence and organized crime, through-the-roof interest rates and antagonistic cat-and-mouse games with Mexico’s most important trading partner.
Who does not vote?
Young people in general, and more and more of the middle class.
An interesting phenomena is taking place with the disenfranchised and rapidly shrinking Mexican middle class.
These Mexicans are the ones whose wages are heavily taxed, who pay for private school for their children because of the poor quality of public schools and who endure hikes in gasoline since they own a vehicle, all the while seeing the last shreds of the nation’s democratic institutions crumble around them,
They are the target of verbal attacks by AMLO, who insults them for having the nerve to want want a better life for their children.
They see their vote as meaningless as they finance failed government after failed government, independent of the coalition’s name or colors every six years.
In short, they have opted out.
But were the middle classes to come out and vote in 2024, Morena could be easily defeated.
This crucial race — which will ultimately decide the fate of the nation — will be decided not by the sparking personalities on each sides’ tickets, but by who shows up.
Sunday’s elections were a clear example of what will play out in 2024, unless Mexico’s middle class miraculously wakes up and heads to the polls.