Midterm Elections and the Fourth Transformation

By Luis Hernández Navarro

The magnitude of the triumph of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in 2018 made some of his sympathizers believe in the inevitability of an overwhelming victory in the midterm elections three years later. Though the definitive results of last Sunday’s elections are yet to be known, it is clear from the available information that Morena1did not obtain the votes that it expected and needed.

The 4T won the majority of the state elections. It lost in Mexico City, its primary bastion since 1988, at least in 9 of the 16 town halls (Xochimilco is in suspense) and 12 districts of the local Congress. Though in the Chamber of Deputies it continues to be, without a doubt, the main political power, it did not obtain the qualified nor absolute majority that it solicited from its voters in the campaigns, and that it requires to move forward with its reforms.

Morena lost, also, a good number of the most important cities in the country, with the exception of Tijuana y Acapulco. In Monterrey and Guadalajara, MC (Citizen’s Movement)2 won; in Querétaro PAN (National Action Party); en Puebla, the alliance between Compromiso por Puebla-Pacto Social de Integración (Commitment to Puebla – Social Pact of Integration) parties; in Morelia, the Coalition PAN-PRD (National Action Party and Party of the Democratic Revolution); Guanajuato, PAN; in Cuernavaca, the PAN-PSD (Social Democratic Party); in Hermosillo, Va Sonora (Go Sonora!); en Toluca, the convergence of PAN-PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party)-PRD; in Veracruz, the PAN won Medellín, Alvarado, Boca del Río and the port.

The partisan opposition, that was reduced almost to insignificance by the tsunami of 2018, came back strong this June 6th, hand-in-hand with the business right. In spite of the setbacks it suffered in various states, the true conservative opposition to the 4T emerges with sufficient strength to veto government initiatives and publicly lead it (and not just its intellectuals, employers’ associations, or written press). It also has power in Mexico City, which it has lacked during the recent decades.

What is notable is that, in spite of the pandemic, economic crisis, insecurity and the discontent of the middle class, the 4T has only suffered substantial losses in the capital of the Republic. It is no small feat. This fact demonstrates to what extent the undeniable approval that López Obrador maintains in public opinion served as a barrier to prevent this despair from becoming manifest in the ballot boxes more widely.

There is a cumulative malaise among artists, scientists, academics, intellectuals, teachers, student teachers, feminists, environmentalists, defenders of human rights, associations of victims that, except for in Mexico City, was not expressed directly in electoral terms in favor of any party or candidate, except by annulling ballots or writing slogans on them.

Part of this anger was spread across social networks, showing photos of ballots that were crossed out or that had slogans on them like: Samir Vive!; Where is Wendy?; Long live Mactumactzá and Teteles!; Land, water, and freedom!; Long live autonomy and liberty!; Marichuy!; against  femicides and disappearances, and a long etc. To measure the extent of this kind of protest is almost impossible.

The electoral results are not good for the two primary contenders for the Morena presidential candidacy: Claudia Sheinbaum3, and Marcelo Ebrard4. On the other hand, the results for the third in the running, Ricardo Monreal, are not bad.  Gabriel García5 fulfilled his role as operator.

Claudia is the big loser of the day. She put two of the lowest level people at the the top of the ticket, which the tribes ignored permanently. Her policy of alliances was fatal and many of her candidates were left owing. Morena-ism in the capital ended up a wreck, fighting to the death, indiscriminately shooting off friendly fire. 

Mario Delgado, Marcelo’s man at the head of the party, signed on countless undesirable candidates, as many with mafioso-like powers as with old PRI-istas or Greens, until he turned Morena in to a political organization like one that the of the best party activists fought against for decades. Simultaneously, he failed to fulfill established agreements with his organizers time and again, and left consistent and integral fighters off of the lists of candidates to posts of popular representation. The results that he delivers leave much to be desired. The demand that he step down is spreading like wildfire.

Curiously, and in spite the repositioning of their parties in the national political arena, it didn’t go that well for the leaders of the PRI, PAN, or PRD either. Everything seems to point to the fact that Alejandro Moreno lost his stronghold in Campeche, and the only thing the gives him breathing room within his ranks is that in Nuevo León, Adrián de la Garza6, who threatened to overtake him, also was defeated. The triumphs of the PAN seem to be more the work of the governors or of the candidates themselves than of Marko Antonio Cortés7. And in the Aztec sun, it has been many years since its limping and corrupt leadership committed suicide. 

Though in some states their results were mediocre, everything seems to indicate that the MC’s bet  (Citizens’ Movement) that it would place itself as a hinge party between the two primary parliamentary blocks was successful. Its triumph in the governorship of Nuevo León and in cities like Monterrey and Guadalajara, as well as its competitiveness in that of Campeche, gives it territory and resources.

Morena passed the test of the mid-term elections. However, its triumph is far from the results it needed to move forward with its plan for the country. Along the way, it has lost an important part of the middle classes. Forecasted for national politics are times even more complicated than we have lived thus far.

This article was published in La Jornada on June 7th, 2021. https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/06/08/opinion/016a1pol
This English interpretation has been re-published by Schools for Chiapas.

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  1. Morena was founded as a non-profit in 2011 and established as a political party by AMLO in 2014. Following his loss as the candidate for the PRD in 2012, AMLO shaped Morena in protest of political corruption.
  2. Described as a social-democratic political party, MC formed as  Convergence for Democracy in 1999, and was re-formed in 2011 as Citizens’ Movement.
  3. Current mayor of Mexico City
  4. Mexico’s Foreign Minister and former mayor of Mexico City from 2006-2012
  5. General Coordinator of Development Programs, he reports directly to the President of the Republic. The 32 superdelegates, the 260 regional delegates and the 25 thousand National Servants, who under the protection of the social programs carry out political proselytizing tasks in favor of the president and Morena, report to him.
  6. Former PRI Municipal President of Monterrey, Nuevo León, and also Attorney General of Justice whose resume of corruption is longer than his resume.
  7.  PAN politician representing Michoacan in the Chamber of Deputies.
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