Rul­ing party barely keeps power in elec­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY PETER ORSI AND MARIA VERZA

MEX­ICO CITY | The rul­ing party’s can­di­date ap­peared to have staved off a stiff chal­lenge in pre­lim­i­nary vote counts on Mon­day in the race for gov­er­nor of Mex­ico’s most pop­u­lous state, an elec­tion seen as a key test ahead of next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

With about 97 per­cent of votes counted, Al­fredo del Mazo of the In­sti­tu­tional Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Party, or PRI, had won 33.7 per­cent of the votes in Mex­ico State, com­pared with 30.8 per­cent for his clos­est ri­val, Del­fina Gomez of the left­ist Morena party. Mex­ico State sur­rounds Mex­ico City, and in­cludes many of its sub­urbs and out­ly­ing slums. Fi­nal bal­lot counts are ex­pected by Wed­nes­day, but the nar­row mar­gin was al­ready be­ing seen as a sign of weak­ness for the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto in the 2018 vote.

A PRI vic­tory would hand the party a re­prieve, after Mr. Pena Ni­eto’s ap­proval rat­ings dipped to near sin­gle dig­its and a pa­rade of former PRI gover­nors were jailed for cor­rup­tion. Many be­lieved the party would have been es­sen­tially knocked out of the 2018 pres­i­den­tial race if it failed to hold on to its last big bas­tion, Mr. Pena Ni­eto’s home state and one it has gov­erned with­out in­ter­rup­tion for 88 years.

But even if Mr. del Mazo wins, he will face a state where two-thirds of vot­ers op­posed him.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Ray­mundo Riva Pala­cio said such a nar­row, “pyrrhic” PRI vic­tory in the state of Mex­ico could spell trou­ble for the party next year. Con­sid­er­ing the power of the PRI’s po­lit­i­cal ma­chine in the state and the fact that Ms. Gomez was prac­ti­cally un­known eight months ago, the re­sult so far sig­nals “an enor­mous dis­con­tent with the PRI” and por­tends a “very bad sce­nario” for the party and the pres­i­dent, he ar­gued.

Jose An­to­nio Cre­spo, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst at Mex­ico’s Cen­ter for Eco­nomic Re­search and Teach­ing, said that with the bruis­ing elec­tions in Mex­ico state the PRI “is not go­ing to win any more pres­tige or re­cover its lost cred­i­bil­ity. On the con­trary, the PRI in­sists on play­ing dirty.”

“As far as 2018 is con­cerned, they lost pres­tige, it sends a very bad sig­nal for 2018,” he noted.

The other two main par­ties, the left­ist Demo­cratic Rev­o­lu­tion and the con­ser­va­tive Na­tional Ac­tion, were be­hind in the race by sig­nif­i­cant mar­gins.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Al­fredo Del Mazo, Mex­ico state gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date, is likely to win the elec­tion against Del­fina Gomez.

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