Elections in Mexican states should bring new gains to the presidential party

MEXICO CITY, June 5 (Reuters) – Mexicans began voting on Sunday in six state elections likely to boost President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party, in one of the last major tests of his electoral influence before the political attention is only shifting to the race. to succeed him.

Lopez Obrador’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) and its allies are tipped to win most of the gubernatorial posts, tightening the party’s grip on the political landscape in the face of a fractured opposition.

Together representing about a tenth of Mexico’s 126 million people, Tamaulipas and Durango in northern Mexico, Aguascalientes and Hidalgo in the center, and Oaxaca and Quintana Roo in the south and east elect new governors.

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All are currently governed by the opposition. Opinion polls suggest only Aguascalientes and Durango are likely to remain in the hands of opposition parties, who are not running on a completely united ticket against MORENA in any state.

Julio Ruiz, a 52-year-old teacher, wanted MORENA to increase his power. “If we’re all with the president, we’ll be better off,” he said as he drove to vote in downtown Oaxaca City.

Gloria Reyes, a 56-year-old woman who does the dishes for a living, passed a polling station in Santa Maria Atzompa, near Oaxaca City, and stopped to implore the Immaculate Virgin of Juquila d help MORENA win.

Javier Oliva, a political scientist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said if MORENA wins a majority of states, it should help consolidate the president’s influence over the party.

“It would give Lopez Obrador a lot of power to decide who will be the candidate in 2024,” Oliva said.

Polls have consistently shown that Lopez Obrador is more popular than MORENA, the party that drove his presidential campaign in 2018, when he won a landslide victory.

Amid the pandemic, he has failed to deliver on campaign promises to accelerate economic growth and drastically reduce gang-fueled violence, but his rollout of social welfare programs has boosted his popularity.

Yet the election comes as a daily tracking poll released by pollster Consulta Mitofsky showed support for Lopez Obrador fell from over 62% in late April to 54% on Friday.

“I can’t help but notice that mistakes made at the federal level are passed on to the states,” said Guadalupe Mejia, a 79-year-old voter in Cancun, Quintana Roo.

Mejia said security and education were her main concerns and she was not voting for MORENA.

Under Mexican law, presidents can serve only one six-year term. Lopez Obrador’s successor is expected to be elected in June 2024. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard are among the favorites for the job.

Political analysts tend to view Sheinbaum as more ideologically aligned with Lopez Obrador’s base, and Ebrard as more moderate, with greater appeal to middle-class voters.

Victory in four of the six states would give MORENA control of 20 of Mexico’s 32 regional governments. Administrations allied to MORENA also govern two other states.

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Reporting by Dave Graham in Mexico City Additional reporting by Paola Chiomante in Cancun, Lizbeth Diaz in Tlaxcala, Jorge Luis Plata in Oaxaca and Brendan O’Boyle in Mexico City Editing by Aurora Ellis and Matthew Lewis

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