There are signs that the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), resoundingly defeated at elections in 2018, is rising from its deathbed.
But Mexico’s current ruling party believes that the once omnipotent political force – the PRI ruled Mexico uninterruptedly for 71 years last century – is up to its old tricks of vote buying and coercion.
According to preliminary results, the PRI – in power federally between 2012 and 2018 with former president Enrique Peña Nieto at its helm – won all 16 districts in elections in Coahuila on Sunday to renew the unicameral state Congress. It was also successful in at least 32 of 84 municipal elections in Hidalgo.
Alejandro Moreno, national president of the PRI, said the results in the two states are representative of people’s renewed confidence in the party, which was plagued by corruption scandals while Peña Nieto was in office.
“It is clear that the PRI is back and that in 2021 [when midterm federal elections will be held] … we will continue winning the confidence of citizens,” he said.
The PRI garnered just under 50% of the vote in Coahuila, more than twice the percentage of voters who cast their ballots for second-place Morena, the party founded by President López Obrador. In Hidalgo, Morena won control of just six municipalities, the newspaper El Universal reported Monday.
But the party’s national president disputed the preliminary results in a Twitter post Sunday.
“The National Executive Committee of Morena doesn’t recognize the so-called preliminary results. We’re still reviewing our records and the information that’s arriving at the electoral institutes. We’re in the running in the majority of districts in Coahuila and several municipalities in Hidalgo,” Alfonso Ramírez Cuéllar wrote.
He and several Morena candidates told a press conference Sunday that irregularities such as vote-buying and coercion – tactics for which the PRI has long been known – were factors in the elections in both states. Ramírez said that violence also marred the elections in the latter state.
The Morena national president said the PRI “doesn’t have the moral quality to speak of a victory, much less a legitimate victory” and would file complaints against the alleged irregularities.
The National Electoral Institute, which is responsible for running elections and counting votes, stressed that the results for both Coahuila and Hidalgo are preliminary, noting that definitive results will be published on Wednesday.
While the early results in the two states, both of which are led by PRI governors, are encouraging for the “tricolor party,” it’s not clear that they will translate into success at federal elections next June at which the entire lower house of Congress will be renewed.
Just 10% of respondents to a recent poll said they planned to vote for the PRI next year compared to 39% who indicated that they would cast their ballots in favor of López Obrador’s Morena.
The conservative National Action Party, currently the second largest party in both the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, only garnered 11% support in the same poll while 31% of respondents said either they wouldn’t vote or hadn’t yet made up their mind.