One of the most coveted prizes in Mexican politics is up for grabs on Sunday when residents of the country’s most populous state, the State of México, go to the polls to elect a new governor.
With a presidential election scheduled for July 2018, parties are now jostling for position in the state election, which analysts see as a bellwether for next year’s presidential race.
Making the race even more interesting is that polls are showing it will be a tight race between the incumbent Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has held power in the state for nearly 90 uninterrupted years, and the much newer political movement, the leftist Morena party.
Morena candidate Delfina Gómez is almost neck and neck with the PRI’s Alfredo del Mazo Maza.
While voters in the states of Coahuila and Nayarit will also elect new governors and municipal elections will take place across Veracruz, most political observers see the State of México as the key battleground and the one to watch.
Here, courtesy of the newspaper El Economista, are are five key things to know about Sunday’s vote in the State of México.
1. Only the governorship is at stake.
Unlike other states in which municipal and/or congressional elections will take place simultaneously, in the State of México the only prize up for grabs is the main one, that of governor. That means that attention is solely focused on the six contenders.
2. Success in the State of México can be a stepping stone to higher office.
The state is home to 11.3 million people or 13.4% of all voters in the country, many of them in the metropolitan area of greater Mexico City. Because of its size, location and economic clout, electoral victories in the State of México have come to be seen as a springboard to greater political success for governors and other elected officials. Politicians from the state have gone on to become party leaders, cabinet members or even president, as is the case with current President Enrique Peña Nieto, who served as state governor from 2005 until 2011.
3. The candidates.
Six candidates are contesting the election, three men and three women. Four represent a single party, one a coalition of four parties and another is running as an independent.
Alfredo del Mazo Maza (PRI):
Candidate for the PRI as well as its coalition partners, the Green Party (PVEM), Nueva Alianza and Encuentro Social. His previous positions include State of México Secretary of Tourism and mayor of Huixquilucan. Both his father and grandfather were governors of the state and he is a cousin of President Peña Nieto.
Delfina Gómez Álvarez (Morena):
Candidate for the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), the party founded in 2014 and led by former and future presidential aspirant Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who plans to run again next year. Gómez previously served as mayor of Texcoco and was an elementary school teacher for many years.
Josefina Vázquez Mota (PAN):
Candidate for the National Action Party (PAN). She was her party’s first female candidate for president in the 2012 elections and previously served as a Deputy and as Secretary for Social Development and Secretary for Public Education in the federal government.
Juan Zepeda Hernández (PRD):
Candidate for the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Previously served as the mayor of Nezahualcóyotl and is a current member of the state Congress.
Óscar Gonzalez Yáñez (PT):
Candidate for the Labor Party (PT). A co-founder of the party he represents, he has also served as a Deputy at federal and state level and as the mayor of Metepec. On Friday he announced he would decline in favor of the Morena candidate.
Maria Teresa Castell de Oro Palacios (Independent):
Running as an independent candidate, the businesswoman originally from Monterrey has no previous experience in public office.
4. Voter turnout may exceed 50%
According to the polling organization Consulta Mitofsky, voter turnout has been trending upwards in recent years and more than half of eligible voters are likely to cast ballots in a state election for governor for the first time since 1993, when 64% participation was recorded.
5. Will the state remain a PRI stronghold?
The Institutional Revolutionary Party has been in power in the State of México for almost 90 consecutive years, making the state a virtual fiefdom. Opponents of the party attempt to paint its unbroken rule in the state as the cause of increased violence, incessant corruption and political entitlement and argue that an extension of their dynastic rule will just lead to more of the same.
According to polls, the candidate most likely to end the near-century rule is the Morena candidate, who leads with 24.4%.
But the race is close with the PRI candidate just behind with 23.6% followed by PAN with 14.9% and the PRD with 13.6%.
Source: El Economista (sp)