Election tests ruling party in country’s biggest state
ECATEPEC, MEXICO | Voters in Mexico’s most populous state on Sunday could hand the ruling party a much-needed boost ahead of next year’s presidential elections or a potentially devastating blow by throwing off its uninterrupted 88-year local rule.
Voting centers opened in the morning amid complaints that some voters had received intimidating telephone calls warning them not to cast ballots and reports of bloody pig heads being left outside opposition party offices. Polling stations were to close at 7 p.m. EDT.
Polls gave the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party of President Enrique Pena Nieto a slight edge in the closing days of the Mexico State campaign, but the result will largely depend on which party can get its backers to vote and the possibility of party switching by voters whose priority is preventing a PRI victory.
Some, like shopkeeper Ruben Sanchez Mendoza, 47, were fed up with almost 90 years of uninterrupted rule by the PRI. Sanchez Mendoza said he voted for Delfina Gomez, the candidate of the leftist Morena party.
“We are tired of so much corruption, corrupt politicians, corrupt police,” said Mr. Sanchez Mendoza. “The truth is, without a change, I don’t see a future for ourselves or our children.”
At a polling station nearby, retiree Maria Concepcion Sanchez Morales, 65, said she was voting for the PRI, despite claims by Morena that the ruling party gave away “rotten beans” to buy votes.
“They say they give out rotten beans, but at least they give out beans,” said Ms. Sanchez Morales. “Let’s not lie: all the benefit programs come from the PRI.”
But both residents of the sprawling suburb of Ecatepec agreed that crime — in the form of widespread robberies in the street and aboard public buses — was the most pressing issue.
“They rob, they steal, at any time of the day or night,” Ms. Sanchez Morales complained.
Near the polling stations, neighbors had strung a banner across one street reading: “Thief, if we catch you, we’re not going to turn you over to police. We will lynch you.”
A loss for the PRI’s Alfredo Del Mazo would be a “huge hit,” said Jose Antonio Crespo, a political analyst at Mexico’s Center for Economic Research and Teaching. “It would lose one of the most important bastions in terms of image, in terms of enthusiasm among PRIists.”
The only certainty is that if the PRI wins there will be allegations of fraud, Mr. Crespo said.
The federal electoral prosecutor’s office said it has received a sharp increase in complaints of alleged irregularities and residents of the state report parties offering them packages of staple goods. Local newspapers published photos of money cards bearing the PRI insignia allegedly being handed out to potential voters.
Voters on Sunday could interrupt PRI’s 88-year straight local rule, which could deliver a devastating blow to the party.