Regardless of the outcome of next Sunday’s elections in four different states, President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will come out badly mangled just as it has in the recent past.
Let’s not forget that in last year’s elections for governor in 12 different states, the PRI once known as “the steamroller” lost seven out of the 12. That was a bad whooping but not the total destruction of the once one-party system that reigned during 70 years, controlling all forms of government in Mexico in what was known as “the perfect dictatorship” by Nobel Literature Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa.
The old days are no more for PRI, and this coming Sunday PRI may not lose all, but some.
Namely, the states of Nayarit and Veracruz will go to other political parties.
In Nayarit, the National Action (PAN) and Democratic Revolution (PRD) parties headed by candidate Antonio Echevarría Domínguez is bound to get the victory. In Veracruz, where there are elections in 212 different municipalities, the two winning parties will be definitely PAN — who now holds the state governor’s office with Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares — and the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), which has had an exponential growth in popularity and from literally no presence, will gain quite a bit of ground.
Why is PRI losing both Nayarit and Veracruz? Definitely because of the blatant and insolent corruption their PRI governors performed. In Veracruz, Javier Duarte de Ochoa is already under arrest and waiting extradition to Mexico in Guatemala for outright theft. And in Nayarit, current Gov. Roberto Sandoval stands accused of being linked to drug trafficking gangs and of course, sacking the state’s treasury. A common comment is that President Peña Nieto has no right to complain if his mighty PRI loses these two states, as it most likely will, as the question is where was he while Duarte and Sandoval did their thievery? So losing these states for PRI does not come for free.
In the other two states holding elections — Coahuila and the State of Mexico (Edo-Mex) — the story is a bit different and losing either of them may be the tolling bell announcing the beginning of the end for a political party that once deemed itself eternal.
The good news previous to the elections is that in both states the leading contenders for the governorships are more or less tied with polls giving one or two points for or against the two top candidates.
In Coahuila the race is between PRI and PAN — the two traditional enemies — but again, poor governance by past governors makes PRI look feeble as forecasters and pollsters are taking into consideration that there is a virtual tie between the two candidates, Guillermo Anaya Llamas of PAN and Miguel Ángel Riquelme Solís of PRI. But the scale will be tilted by the “undecided” voters who might just be fed up with the permanence of PRI in power since it was founded in 1929.
An added factor of resentment is that former and current governors, brothers Humberto and Rubén Moreira, leave behind (particularly Humberto, who was also national PRI president when Peña Nieto launched his campaign for president in 2011) a 35 billion peso ($1.8 billion) debt. This has created a lot of resentment among the uncommitted voters who may just oust PRI out of power. However, the current race is tight and I’ll wait for results.
Finally, is the Edo-Mex which is the president’s home state and of which he was state governor from 2005 to 2011, which was the platform from which he launched his campaign as president.
Edo-Mex is considered the cornerstone of PRI, as a powerful nationally influential people who made the “Atlacomulco Group” have supported PRI at all times and indeed it continues to be the solid rock PRI was founded upon. Not curiously enough, but factually, President Peña Nieto is the current representative and visible head of the “Atlacomulco Group” not just because he was governor, but because he was born in the town of Atlacomulco.
Losing Edo-Mex will surely be a very bitter pill to swallow for President Peña Nieto politically speaking and currently the entire PRI — including presidential cabinet members — have been backing candidate Alfredo del Mazo Maza, but polls still show him with low levels of votes, definitely not enough to beat Morena candidate Delfina Gómez by a reasonable and credible margin.
Again, what may tilt the scales also in Edo-Mex is the undecided vote that is angry over rampant police corruption and blatant insecurity (it’s the state with highest rate of women murdered in Mexico) which may prove to be the PRI’s Achille’s Heel.
Should PRI win Edo-Mex, it will mean a much needed breath of air to the President’s Administration.