Sunday’s debut of Morena, a party founded by longtime leftist politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was the most successful one ever for a left-wing party in the electoral history of Mexico.
According to data from the National Electoral Institute (INE), Morena, which stands for the National Regeneration Movement, obtained 8.37% of the national vote, winning in 14 electoral districts.
The party’s most relevant wins were in Mexico City, where it now has 18 of the 40 seats (filled by direct vote) of the Legislative Assembly (ALDF) and chiefs in five of the 16 boroughs (known in Spanish as delegaciones).
The new party has snatched away the near absolute control that the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) has had over Mexico City for 18 years.
Of the assembly’s 66 seats, 40 are chosen in a first-past-the-post contest and the remaining 26 will be assigned proportionally on Saturday. The PRD took 14 seats on Sunday, the National Action Party (PAN) five and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) three.
Of the borough chiefs, six will be PRD, five Morena, three will be PRI and its ally the Green Party, and two will be PAN.
After the 2012 elections, the PRD — allied with the Labor and Citizens’ Movement parties — had 14 borough chiefs, while the PAN and the PRI-Green alliance had one each.
Xóchitl Gálvez, a PAN borough chief-elect, believes that the low turnout — it was about 40% compared to 47% nationally — and the shift in electoral preferences are a sign of the weariness people in Mexico City have for the PRD.
Morena president Martí Batres said his party sold itself as the better option on the left of the political spectrum: “We introduced our party as a real left-wing option. Despite irregularities and vote buying, despite PRD’s dirty war, we are now the primary force in the capital.”
Batres also said Morena owes its triumph to four important elements: the political asset that is López Obrador, a former mayor of Mexico City, and the “memory” of his good governance; the party’s opposition to the structural reforms pushed forward by President Peña Nieto; the voluntary nature of its membership; and that it nominated candidates with ”a good reputation.”
PRD national president Carlos Navarrete said that in division is defeat, alluding to Morena’s origin as a breakaway cell of the PRD. “The left in Mexico is suffering the worst division in its history. The PRD must now rebuild itself,” he said. “All parties must objectively and self-critically assess their performance after an electoral process, without indulging in complacency.”
For Nicolás Loza, researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Flacso), Morena’s results are bad news for the PRD: “Many PRD militants were already doubtful of staying. They will probably migrate now, knowing there’s a strong party [to go to] with resources and strong positions in government.”
On the other hand, a political scientist and researcher emeritus at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Octavio Rodríguez Araujo, reckons that even if Morena’s results represent a good start, its win over the PRD shouldn’t be overstated, as the difference in votes received by each party was minimal.